Validate your mid-year goals to lock in success

Do you have a plan to validate that you’ve met your mid-year objectives? Does your team have a plan to confirm that end-of-year objectives are on track for completion?

Hi, I’m Peter Nichol, Data Science CIO.

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The guideline for goal achievement

Today I’m going to get into how to make sure you align your mid-year objectives and have an approach to validate that you achieved those objectives.

Let’s start with a hierarchy of how these different parts relate and explore the relationship between objectives and goals. I want to introduce a new pneumonic:

Victory Means Giving Others Credit and Keeping Mild Manners

  1. V = Vision
  2. M = Mission
  3. G = Goals
  4. O = Objectives
  5. C = Critical success factors
  6. K = KPIs
  7. M = Metrics
  8. M = Measurements

I often recall this pneumonic, but I rarely remember the details if I don’t write it down. However, when I do write out, “Victory means giving others credit and keeping mild manners,” I find it’s much easier to remember the details.

Additionally, these concepts build on each other and are quasi sequential. It’s not that they can’t be performed in parallel, but each is usually envisioned as an output of the prior group.

Let’s explore briefly what each term means in more detail. Vision is a statement that describes the future position of a team, department, or company. Mission defines a team, department, or company’s purpose in reaching their goals. The goals are general guidelines that explain what your team, department, or company intends to achieve. Objectives are more specific and define strategies or the implementable steps required to attain the identified goals. Critical success factors are goals that are crucial for a team, department, or company to meet. KPIs (key performance indicators) is a method to measure value and evaluate how a team, department, or company is achieving key business objectives. Metrics differ from KPIs because metrics track the status of a specific business event, process, or outcome, and often calculate multiple measures. Measures or measurements are data points for a particular point in time and in context.

Using a pneumonic is helpful in recalling the details and understanding how these elements of performance fit together.

Validating that you achieved your goals

Think for a minute about what you achieved year to date. What products did your team introduce? How did your department grow and mature over the last quarter? As you recall the accomplishments within the previous six months, you’ll find your team probably achieved some excellent outcomes.

Now ask yourself if what your team achieved is genuinely connected to your objectives. How can you prove this? This is where things start to go off track with most leaders. They know they achieved solid results. However, they’re unclear on how to connect the results they achieved to objectives—and, more specifically, how to prove—beyond all doubt—that those objectives were successfully met.

As a result of coaching many leaders over the years, I developed what I call, “The Goal Plate.” This is a combination of five key elements that confirm that your goals were achieved beyond all doubt.

Elements of The Goal Plate:

  1. Objectives
  2. Goals
  3. Strategies
  4. Action plans and measures
  5. Validation of completion

This is a simple model that’s easy to communicate to leaders.

How does it work?

The process starts with the objectives you were given at the start of the year. However, often in many immature organizations, those goals are either nonexistent or incomplete. If you’re in that situation, take time to elaborate and define the objectives that align with your role. It might be helpful to reference my article on objectives and key results (OKRs) titled, “The system adopted by Intel for goals.”

Next, we add on our goals. These are usually a bulleted list of approaches or guidelines that you’ll use to achieve your objectives. These could be general behaviors that get your team, department, or company closer to achieving the objectives.

After we have our objectives defined and our goals established, we begin to document our strategies. During this step, we identify the specific methods for how we’ll enable our goals. These could be, for example, new initiatives to drive a particular outcome.

Action plans and measures define the specific steps we plan to take to realize our strategies. These are prescriptive and specific activities that we’ll perform to achieve the desired objective outcomes.

Lastly, we identify the validation of completion. In this step, we define yes/no questions that, if affirmed, validate that our activity was completed, links to our strategy, connects to our goals, and directly affects our objective being achieved.

The Goal Plate example

  • Objective
    • Continue to develop leaders that can drive and have accountability for delivery across the organization
  • Goals
    • Develop and mentor the team to become subject matter experts (SMEs) on the issues, defects, and project challenges for the business units that team members represent.
  • Strategies
    • Build a culture of PPM excellence, where portfolio, program, and project management are viewed as a business accelerator
    • Quantifiably improve the PPM maturity for the analytics and agile delivery team
    • Implement quarterly PM-demonstrated competency checks or maturity measures.
    • Develop a training approach to increase domain and channel knowledge systematically
    • Develop and communicate a transparent escalation model
    • Institute a model to collect and aggregate project status for empowered executive decision making
    • Provide new training opportunities for PMs; e.g., Smartsheet
  • Action plans and measures
    • Conduct quarterly demonstrated competency checks to evaluate the team using competencies and maturity measurements
    • Design and communicate resource backup coverage plan
    • Forecast and model program-manager utilization through year-end
    • Design and generate a weekly project-summaries document for leadership awareness
  • Validation of completion
    • “In progress” or “complete” (aligned with each action)

Download the templates here

Hopefully, this article provided some insights into how you can confirm and validate that you have achieved your mid-year goals.

If you found this video helpful, that’s great! Check out my books, Think Lead Disrupt and Leading with Value. They just came out early in 2021 and are available on Amazon and at http://www.datsciencecio.com/shop for author signed copies!

Hi, I’m Peter Nichol, Data Science CIO. Have a great day!

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Peter is a technology executive with 19 years of experience, dedicated to driving innovation, digital transformation, leadership, and data in business. He helps organizations connect strategy to execution to maximize company performance. He has been recognized for Digital Innovation by CIO 100, MIT Sloan, Computerworld, and the Project Management Institute. As Managing Director at OROCA Innovations, Peter leads the CXO advisory services practice, driving digital strategies. Peter was honored as an MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award Finalist in 2015 and is a regular contributor to CIO.com on innovation. Peter has led businesses through complex changes, including the adoption of data-first approaches for portfolio management, lean six sigma for operational excellence, departmental transformations, process improvements, maximizing team performance, designing new IT operating models, digitizing platforms, leading large-scale mission-critical technology deployments, product management, agile methodologies, and building high-performance teams. As Chief Information Officer, Peter was responsible for Connecticut’s Health Insurance Exchange’s (HIX) industry-leading digital platform transforming consumerism and retail oriented services for the health insurance industry. Peter championed the Connecticut marketplace digital implementation with a transformational cloud-based SaaS platform and mobile application recognized as a 2014 PMI Project of the Year Award finalist, CIO 100, and awards for best digital services, API, and platform. He also received a lifetime achievement award for leadership and digital transformation, honored as a 2016 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader. Peter is the author of Learning Intelligence: Expand Thinking. Absorb Alternative. Unlock Possibilities (2017), which Marshall Goldsmith, author of the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Triggers, calls "a must-read for any leader wanting to compete in the innovation-powered landscape of today." Peter also authored The Power of Blockchain for Healthcare: How Blockchain Will Ignite The Future of Healthcare (2017), the first book to explore the vast opportunities for blockchain to transform the patient experience. Peter has a B.S. in C.I.S from Bentley University and an MBA from Quinnipiac University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He earned his PMP® in 2001 and is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Masters in Business Relationship Management (MBRM) and Certified Scrum Master. As a Commercial Rated Aviation Pilot and Master Scuba Diver, Peter understands first hand, how to anticipate change and lead boldly.