This week on Freaky Friday: Do not define goals!*

© 2012 by Kai-Thomas Krause for

There is a very easy and commonly used method to crush a project (in most cases used unconsciously …). This is the definition of goals. Sounds simple to you? OK, then go ahead, stop reading and write down what characteristics a goal should have …
Nice to have you back! How far did you get? There is a formula that you either know or not: goals must be SMART: S for specific, M for measurable, A for achievable, R for realistic and T for timed. If all these are applied to whatever goal you want to reach, you have a good chance to reach this goal. But you may have noticed that I have written “must” instead of should. Why? If one of the characteristics is somewhat blurry or even undefined, you will have a point of error, since the whole concept only works if ALL are defined. Let’s take a look at the individual points with a simple example you may know – loosing some weight in the new year:
  • S for specific – you have to describe what you want to reach as exactly as possible. “I want to loose weight”
  • M for measurable – you have to quantify your goal. “12kg of weight”
  • A for achievable – the goal has to be achievable, that means that it is accepted and hat you really want to do this. “with running twice a week”
  • R for realistic – of course the goal has to be realistic. But realistic for the context it is placed in. So for a movie star it may be is realistic to loose 30kg with the help of a personal trainer, but what is realistic for you?
  • T for timed – at last you have to define a timing. Make it as exact as possible. “2 kg each month”

So in the end your goal definition looks like this: “I will loose a complete 12kg until the end of June, that is 2 kg per month, with running twice a week.”

I hope that this makes it clear why all points have to be defined. If you take any of the above points and leave it blank in the goal definition, there is a leak which will allow it to fail. The definition may sound a bit funny, but it doesn’t have to be lyrics! It just has be there. And believe me, it is quite an effort to go for a clear definition in projects.

Now, why is this relevant for ecommerce projects? First of all, especially the world of ecommerce is very fast (compared to other sectors) and ever changing. Quick reactions to market developments are vital to stay in business. In such an environment a clear definition of goals is important to make sure they are reached. The second reason is that I barely know projects that had had a real definition of goals. Most cases are more like “we have to go into ecom – so let’s do it asap”. In effect, they are in a lot of cases not specific and not measurable. On top of this, the timings that I have seen are seldom realistic.

The result for the guerrilla project manager: in ignoring as much of this definition we increase the chance of failure. What is really great in using  this method is the fact that most people barely know this definition. And even if they know it, only few use it and apply it to the goals they have. So simply do not tell them and do not force a clear definition of goals. If someone tries to use it – try to blur it. This tip is one of the best and the easiest to crash a project. You do not have to be active at all, just keep your cover and smile knowingly if the ship begins to sink …

* Legal disclaimer: This feature is an excerpt from the book project “How to wreck your projects” (still to be finished). What you read here may cause havoc to your project, when applied. Neither nor the author will take any responsibility for the effects. So read carefully. You are responsible for any action you take (or not take) after reading!

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