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Goal Setting

Setting Measurable Goals and Objectives

July 16, 2012 by Dr. Jon Warner in Goal Setting

“Nothing that cannot get measured gets managed.” Perhaps (unfortunately) goals fit this category more than anything else. A goal that can’t be measured will be vague, unspecific, intangible or just plain confusing. As a result, quite obviously it will not be achieved. In fact, nobody would know if it were achieved even by accident. As a result, every individual goal needs a measure to be developed that is appropriate to describe the area in which you want to make progress. This means that you are able to apply the measure today (or now) and that you are able to apply the same measure tomorrow or in the future – and see whether there is a difference.

People often see measurement as a complicated activity and as a result, often become far too sophisticated in applying a complex metric that may or may not fit the situation at hand. In fact, goals can only be measured in a few quite limited areas. The four most popular ones are: Quality, Quantity, Cost and Timeliness. Whether your goal is personal, team or organization-wide, these categories should cover almost all measurement possibilities. In the final analysis, pretty much all goals can only be measured in simple numeric or ‘countable’ terms.

Many individuals fall into the trap of believing that once a reasonable measure has been applied, it’s just a matter of now watching progress. Unfortunately, this is to stop short before a very important step in goal-setting – are we measuring the right things? The leadership writer Warren Bennis once described the difference between management and leadership as: “Management is climbing the rungs of the ladder as fast as we can; Leadership is making sure that the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

When we apply this thinking to goal-setting, this suggests that it is much more important for our targeting efforts (the ladder) to be ‘leaning against the right wall’ or to be focused in the right direction than to measure even “fantastic” performance in the wrong area. History is littered with stories of ‘herculean’ or ‘heroic’ efforts to achieve certain goals that we later perceive to be the wrong objectives in the first place.

The featured video clip is a short excerpt from the ReadyToManage, Rapid Skill Builder eLearning program, Goals & Objective Setting: An RSB eLearning Course.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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One Comment

  1. TiffanyMay 27, 2016 at 5:06 am

    Great post! I completely agree. It is crucial to reevaluate the goal while it is in progress to not only ensure its success but to be certain that the goal still holds the same or more value as it did when it was originally created.

About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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