Checklist for Goals and Resolutions

Do you have resolutions for the new year?

Are you defining new goals for your project or team?

If the answer is yes, then you would do well to run each of them against the following checklist.

I created it by combining various sources, including the famous S.M.A.R.T. criteria, and various wisdom tiles from my grandmothers bathroom:

  1. Is the goal specific/understandable enough so that people know what you mean?
  2. Is the goal simple/concise enough so that it fits on a small card or sticky note?
  3. Is the goal manageable/measurable so that success can be determined?
  4. Is the goal memorable/reproducible so that people can easily communicate it to others?
  5. Is the goal attainable/realistic so that people have a chance of actually achieving it?
  6. Is the goal ambitious/broad enough so that it isn’t (too) easy to achieve?
  7. Is the goal actionable/assignable so that it can be turned into specific actions?
  8. Is the goal agreed-upon/committable so that people actually feel responsibility for it?
  9. Is the goal relevant/useful enough for people so that they really care about it?
  10. Is the goal time-bound/time-specific so that people know when to do it?
  11. Is the goal tangible/real so that people can see the effects of achieving it?
  12. Is the goal excitable/motivational so that it motivates people to do their best?
  13. Is the goal revisitable/assessable so that you can reassess its applicability later?
  14. Is the goal inspiring/visionary so that it helps people to see a bigger picture?
  15. Is the goal value-based so that it builds on top of company values, team values, or personal values?

There are also a few things that you should stay away from when you’re setting goals. Susan M. Heathfield described five possible dangers.

  • First of all, goals should not be created to intimidate people and to threaten them with loss of their jobs if they’re unable to achieve them.
  • Goals should not be defined merely to impress shareholders or people watching the organization from the sideline.
  • Goals should not favor short-term wins over long-term losses.
  • Goals should not distract people from a desired outcome by focusing only on an action plan.
  • Finally, you should aim not to have too many goals.

And particularly that last one sounds like a fine goal to me!

I wish you all the very best for 2010.
And thanks for reading…

(image by oskay)

This article will be part of the book Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders. You can follow its progress here.

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  • http://profile.typepad.com/patrickverheij Patrickverheij

    Nice new site layout, Jurgen. It’s light, fresh, fun and still professional. Only dislike is the long list of menus and ads on the right, but I guess you make good money off this site and want to keep it that way 😉
    Keep up the good posts.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jurgenappelo Jurgen Appelo

    You’re right, the right-hand side is still a bit ugly. I’ll try and trim it.
    Thanks for the feedback!

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