A powerful and easy to implement goal setting process that works in both our business and personal lives.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” In practical terms, what he’s saying is that if we don’t have a written set of goals that we’ve made public in some fashion (to help us stick to them), it’s just too easy to let life’s events lead us down a road to a destination different than the one we envisioned.
Last week, I talked about how to make our goals ‘public’, through the use of Vision Boards. This week, I’ll tackle the process of actually setting the goals.
Years ago, I learned a simple, yet powerful method to set goals. The process is called GOSPA and I believe it came out of IBM. My wife and I use it every year to set our business and life goals. It is very much a part of the fabric of our life now.
GOSPA stands for Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Plans, and Activities. The simple way to explain the process is that Goals are our dreams. These can be qualitative, so they don’t necessarily need to be time bound. This step is where we want to let our imaginations run free. As a matter of fact, Jim Collins, author of, From Good to Great, coined the acronym, BHAG—Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Make those Goals BHAGs to get you excited.
Objectives, Plans, and Activities are measurable, time bound and assignable. Objectives are annual, Plans are quarterly, and Activities are monthly.
What makes the GOSPA process so powerful, though, is the Strategies section. After setting qualitative goals and then quantitative annual objectives that support those goals, it causes us to think about how to accomplish our stated Objectives for the year. This step involves a lot of thought that sometimes may even cause us to go back and change a Goal or Objective. Most of the time, Strategies lead to the specific Plans and Activities that will put the Strategies in motion.
I believe this is what separates this process from other goal setting approaches I’ve seen before. It helps us be more reasonable when setting our measurable and time bound expectations.
It would take too long to describe the whole process here, but I do have two documents that describe both the GOSPA process and how to create a vision board if you’re interested. Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with GOSPA in the subject line and I’ll send you both.
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