A 10-step Technique for setting Objectives that take you places

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A 10-step Technique for setting Objectives that take you places

In this article, Peter Cameron-Burnett explains an essential 10 point technique to help you achieve more by making sure your objectives are set up properly to move you and your team quickly forward towards your goals. 


An essential technique to move you forward.

Someone recently told us that AgileOS was “a big bunch of great techniques flying in close formation” – which is a description the team here loved!

And I’d like to share one of those techniques with you now, because it’s really important for you to get this right.

After all, your objectives are what make things actually happen for you.

By getting specific about what we want, by making it measurable and manageable, we create a tangible step forward toward your goal.

(By the way, if you haven’t read our article on the Golden Ladder – which gives you important context for your objectives – you can find it here.)

A properly constructed objective should motivate and inform you (and the people working with you if you have some).

It should tell you know where you are going, why you want to get there, how you are going to get there, and how you will know when you have arrived.

Just like some garages do a 10 point check when you bring your car in, there are 10 points that we check to make sure your objectives are ready to fly.

5 of them are the components of the objective, which we derived years ago from something called Commander’s Intent – a NATO technique for defining mission objectives that has been literally battle tested.

And the other 5 are something that will be familiar to almost anyone who has worked in the corporate world.

Together they will help you make your goals real, so that both your unconscious mind and your teams are inspired to move forwards!

#1: Defining your Objective

We teach people to add these 5 areas to their objective cards on their AgileOS board. They are what help us translate your vision and mission through to actual projects and actions:

And here they are:

Step 1: Desired Situation (Where do we want to be?)

We start with a short description of what we want the world to be like when we have achieved our objective.

It should be written in current tense, so your mind (and your team) can visualise it, and it should describe all the ways we would know that we have achieved the goal.

Let’s take the example of losing weight: the desired situation is that on a specified date,  you are able get on the scale and the scale will read X kg.

Step 2: Current Situation (Where are we now?)

This is an important description of what things are like at the moment.

Using the weight example, how much do we weigh now?

This is important because it helps us define a starting point – if we know the start point and the end point, then we know the size of the gap.

Step 3: Rationale (Why do we want to move from one situation to the other?)

This is where we write down all the reasons we want to move forward from one to the other.

It’s essential, because most things that are worth achieving are going to need effort, time and money to get there.

And when things get a little tougher, we need to remind ourselves why we are bothering!

For instance, in terms of losing weight, we are explicit about how good we will feel, how much longer we’re going to live, how much longer our knees, hips and back will last, how much more enjoyment we will have playing with kids and so on.

Step 4: Transition Strategy (How do we get from the current situation to the desired situation?)

Now we know the size of the gap between desire and current reality, and why we want to close that gap, this is where we start to look at what we’re going to do about it.

And as you can imagine, these ideas are then the seeds from which the projects you create to fulfill this objective will grow.

TIP: Using a mindmap (either an online tool or just on a piece of paper) is a great way to spark ideas here.

Step 5: Tracking Approach (How are we going to measure and stay on track?)

Having a great objective is pointless if we don’t keep an eye on how we are doing when it comes to achieving it.

We also want to look at how we are going to chunk down getting to our destination broken down into units of time.

So if we want to lose 12 kg in 12 weeks, we could decide on a target of 1 kg per week.

To track that, we could decide to weigh ourselves once a week.

(And of course, we can then add that seamlessly into everything else we are doing by creating a recurring action in the .do section of our AgileOS board!)

#2: CHECKING your Objective

This section is a quick checklist that we use to make sure our objective isn’t missing something important, and uses the SMART you may have encountered before:

Check 1: Have we been specific? 

Do we know exactly what outcome we want to achieve here? The way to test that is to describe it simply to someone.

If you can’t do it in such a way that they can picture it, you need more detail.

(This detail normally goes into Step #1 – the desired situation.)

Check 2: Is it measurable?

Have we got measurements in place that will help us know we’re on track, and when we have arrived?

(This detail normally goes into Step #1 – the desired situation, and Step 5 – Tracking Approach.)

Check 3: Is it achievable?

Ambitious objectives breathe life into you and your team. Unrealistic objectives are a morale and motivation killer.

Make sure you are on the right side of that fine line by looking at the gap you are trying to close, the amount of time you are allowing for it, and the resources you have at your disposal.

(This detail normally goes into Step #4 – transition strategy.)

Check 4: Is it resourced?

Have we thought through and assigned the right amount of time, money, people etc to this?

(This detail normally goes into Step #4 – transition strategy.)

Check 5: Is it timed?

Do we have an properly defined end date ?

(This detail normally goes into Step #1 – the desired situation, and Step 5 – Tracking Approach.)

Rinse and repeat!

Once you have mastered this for one area, you’ll find it quickly comes naturally for the others that you do.

Getting good at this skill is critical to your success – whatever your situation.

Everyone can work hard – but doing this type of thinking that will have a massive positive impact on your outcomes is rare – and in hot demand! 😉


Get AgileOS, and Manage your objectives beautifully …

AgileOS is a free system designed to help you manage your personal and professional life, business and teams, removing stress and boosting energy and creativity by helping you get a lot of mental processes out of your head onto a system you can trust.

It helps you do all of the things we’ve shown you above, quicker and easier than anything else out there.

You can sign up for free at http://agileos.tools


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