Have You Reached Your Goal?

Have you reached your goal yet? Okay, this is a trick question, set me elaborate.

Goals

In a prior blog posting (What Are Your Goals?), I discussed the use of the acronym SMART when setting goals. As I mentioned in that post there of some variations of this acronym, but it is generally sufficient. Again, to as a reminder, it means:

S          Specific. Goals must be specific in what is the target.

M        Measurable. There must be a way to measure progress toward a goal

A         Attainable. We become discouraged if we set goals that are unrealistic

R         Relevant. They should relevant in helping fulfill your mission and vision

T          Timely That is, there should be a deadline for reaching goals

Regardless of the guidelines we use to create our goals, they are meaningless unless we have checkpoints along the way. These checkpoints are crucial to achieving goals.

Measurable

In the acronym SMART the M stands for measurable. Fundamentally this means that the goals are of such a nature that we have a realistic way to determine our progress. But, what exactly does that mean? Once we establish our goals we then determine the processes necessary to achieving the goals. Those processes may get altered as we progress, but they give us a way to take actions that move us forward. It is the achieving of the specific processes that make goals measurable. Here is an example.

Imagine you are a controller and your goal is to shorten the monthly closing process from five days to two days. You might start by examining the current closing process and seeing if there are steps that are unnecessary or that can be combined and modify based on your findings. Then you may identify bottlenecks. As a result of this you may determine that one of the bottlenecks is that needed information is not available in a timely manner. Then you may design a better way of obtaining the information. This is continued until you have achieved the goal of shortening the closing process.

Is This Really Realistic

Actually the example above is something I actually did for a client. When I first began to help this client the monthly closing was taking a week or more. I made it a goal to shorten the closing process to two or three days. One of the main things I did was to find bottlenecks, and one of those was the flow of information. I then established procedures to obtain this information in an alternative manner. Then I tested this new process and the result was that the process had been shorted to two or three days, thus the goal was met.

What’s Next?

I started this blog posting by stating that the question, “Are your there yet?” was really a trick question. Here is what I mean by that. Any time we reach a goal we should evaluate what has been achieved. This will nearly always lead to new goals that will further enhance things. In the example above, the first goal I actually set for the closing process was to improve accuracy of information. Once this was done it led me to create the new goal of shortening the closing process. Actually, while pursuing the second goal I found ways to continue to improve of the original goal of accuracy. That brings us back to the questions,” Are you there yet?” and “What’s next?” You may have already seen this from the example, but the bottom line is that we never fully obtain our goals. Once we achieve what we originally set out to accomplish, we see new goals and normally find that there are always ways to refine the original goal. There is always something else. There is really no end to achieving goals.

What about you. Do you set goals that are SMART? Do you find that once you have reached your original goal that it invariably leads to another goal and even refinements of the original goal?

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.

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