In one of my new goal-setting videos I make a big deal out of the importance of setting goals as Outcomes vs Activities.
This has led to some people asking me if Activity Goals are “bad.” And the answer is “No,” but – Activity Goals need to be connected to Outcome Goals.
In the goal-setting process, set the Outcomes you want first. Then you create Activities that you will use to achieve the Outcomes. If you are setting Almost Impossible Goals, then this will take a lot of brainstorming. Check out the full set of goal-setting videos to learn more.
With all of this in mind, you will have many more Activity Goals than Outcome Goals, because it takes a lot of effort to produce an Outcome.
The problem a lot of organizations have is that they have people setting Activities that are not connected to Outcomes. This leads to people running around doing a lot of “stuff” and not making any difference as far as Outcomes are concerned. Your team may be exhausted from Activity but have not made any real progress on Outcomes you care about.
Once you have Outcome Goals and Activity Goals set, the next thing you need are Milestones.
Milestones are indicators that you are making actual progress toward your Outcomes. A Milestone is NOT checking off a set of “To Dos” on your list. A Milestone tells you that the Activities you have completed are actually taking you toward the Outcome. People who use a Sales Funnel understand this as they engage in Activities to transition people from prospects to customers.
If you are driving from New York to San Francisco, then you would set geographic Milestones to let you know you are on your way, e.g., “Hey, we just crossed the Ohio border!” vs “We have driven 600 miles!” (You could be in Canada for all you know.)
The important role that Milestones play is telling you if your Activities are actually getting you where you want to go. If not, you need a new plan with new Activity Goals. In the example above, if you really are in Canada after driving 600 miles then you need to get out the map and chart a new route. (You may also need someone designated as navigator as your GPS seems to be broken.)
The proper and creative use of Outcome Goals, Activity Goals, and Milestones can lead to amazing successes for you personally and your organization. Good luck making a goal-directed Mission Impact!