Excellent article the other day on writings from one of my all-time favorite books, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. According to the authors, “SMART goals are better for steady-state situations than for change situations, because the assumptions underlying them are that the goals are worthwhile.” The article goes on to state, “As simple as the SMART method appears, it doesn’t allow a person to forge an emotional connection to the goals.”
Translation relative to Waypoint Group’s mission: Don’t set a goal to be “more customer-centric.” Set a goal to learn how to be customer-centric. This means, for example, don’t set a goal based on customer survey scores (such as Net Promoter Scores, NPS). Instead, set goals based on how well the organization is learning how to engage with customers. There are many metrics that you can use to measure progress against the end outcome, such as
- Response rates (a favorite because it’s a double-whammy: especially for B2B business response is a measure of customer relationship strength, while having better data that better represents the business can also drive action. Plus, there’s quite a lot a company can do to improve this leading-indicator.)
- Improvement rates: What percentage of customers are actually seeing improvement? This is a good measure to drive action, since we know that mere measurement can have unintentionally bad consequences.
The moral is, don’t just focus on outcomes – focus on the process to get there. You might set a goal that you want to lose 5 pounds but you’ll never get there unless you focus and set goals on the execution (maybe I should stop eating all that sourdough bread I love so much and also walk the dog 5 miles a week — those are things that I know how to do, and could adopt into my routine).
Yes, understand your future-state vision. And set goals around the process (execution) to enable a “stickier” way to reach the desired outcome.
“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” ~ Albert Einstein