Problem-Solving Success Tip - Make Your Success Criteria SMART
by Jeanne Sawyer
How will you know when the problem is solved? Success criteria answer that question in measurable terms, but only if they are "SMART". There are many versions of this memory-hook floating around, but all of them are intended to help you make sure your success measurements can achieve their purpose. Here's my favorite:
Specific. Point to the particular problem as precisely as possible.
Measurable. You must be able to tell objectively, i.e., by measuring, whether you've met the criterion or not.
Appropriate. Be sure that whatever you measure will indicate success in solving this problem, Metrics that are very broad, such as overall revenue growth, are usually useless for confirming that a particular problem is solved.
Reasonable. You must have reasonable expectation that you can actually achieve the numbers you agree to. At the time you're setting success criteria, you don't know yet how you'll solve the problem, but you should have some sense of how big and messy it is. For example, if it will take you full-time work for a week just to analyze the problem and you have other responsibilities, don't promise a total solution within a week.
Time-bound. Specify when the success criteria will be met. A 10 percent improvement in a week is a lot different from a 10 percent improvement in a year. Also determine how long you will monitor the success metrics to be sure the problem really is solved.
Checking your success criteria to make sure they're SMART can help avoid the trap of measuring something just because you can. None of us has time to collect and review metrics because they are "interesting". Make sure your success criteria will help you make a decision, are simple in concept, are so clearly connected to the problem that you can remember them easily, and that they are SMART.
Jeanne Sawyer may be contacted at http://www.sawyerpartnership.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeanne Sawyer is an author, consultant, trainer and coach who helps her clients solve expensive, chronic problems, such as those that cause operational disruptions and cause customers to take their business elsewhere. These tips are excerpted from her book, When Stuff Happens: A Practical Guide to Solving Problems Permanently. Find out about it, and get more free information on problem solving at her web site: http://www.sawyerpartnership.com/.