That’s a great goal. But is it measurable?

With our recent integration of OKRs and PPPs, we are more than ever striving to set realistic, achievable and engaging objectives.

You might be surprised to hear that far from being a boring management technique that everyone hates, it’s actually fun and also really collaborative, We share all of our goals and plans inside WeekDone, and each team member can see what other people are aiming for, and how well they are doing in the accomplishment of their goals and what problems they encounter. It’s something that everyone can learn from and improve.

What is not always easy is to make your goals measurable. For example, how would you make the following measurable:

  • I want to improve my JavaScript skills
  • I need to become better at client communication
  • I want to become better at blogging

Each of them is a nice goal, but is it measurable?

There is no metric in the world to gauge any of these objectives. They are well-intentioned, but useless. Let’s make them more tangible. We could break down goal number one into three actionable sub-goals:

  • Do CodeSchool tutorial on JavaScript in week 1
  • Read “JavaScript – The good parts” by Douglas Crockford in week 2 (yes, it’s quite short)
  • Pair with one JavaScript Guru from our team 5 times in week 3

Ta-Da, we have made our objective much more approachable.

Instead of defining a vague dream, we now have 3-week DIY program to JavaScript mastery. And at the end of the week, we are able to measure our progress, which makes the whole process much more encouraging and enjoyable. E.g. if we completed 5 of 7 chapters, then our progress is 72%. If we put this into relation to our overall progress, then we’re at 24% of goal completion.

It should be obvious by now that measurable goals (the M in SMART criteria) lead to higher success rates.

We could break these items down even further by adding daily goals to our agenda. This would allow us to control our progress even further by doing daily reviews to see if we are on track, such as ticking off a daily to-do list item and see if we are able to accomplish it several days in a row. (Apps such as HabitList, Lift or Strides are extremely helpful here)

What’s important with this approach of quantifiable goals is that you have a tangible “First Step”.

If you only define the outcome, you have no idea what to do next. If you know you need to complete a tutorial at CodeSchool though, then obviously you need to go to their site and sign up. In order to read the book of week 2, you need to go to your favorite bookstore and purchase it.

After that, it’s all about checking your progress regularly to keep you on track. I’ve even gone so far that I count the pages of a book in order to motivate myself to read 2-3 pages per day to make constant progress. Is this ridiculous? Yes. But does it work? Yes.

I have tried plenty of tools to make this work, but the tools I found most useful for now in order to put this technique into practice are WeekDone/Asana (at work) and LifeTick/Wunderlist (for personal stuff). For daily habit tracking I used to be a fan of Lift, but I recently found out about Strides which I now prefer because of its better tracking features. Android users should have a look at HabitBull for their tracking their daily accomplishments.