Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg
Today I want to talk about the other part of effective decision-making...goal-setting.
Goal setting is important because it provides direction to your decision-making. Goals guide the process and for that reason, you not only need high-level goals, you also need to develop clear and specific sub-goals within.
For instance, stating that you want your new website to be easy and intuitive, although a valid and useful high-level goal, isn't enough on it's own. What do “easy” and “intuitive” mean? For me, the answer to that question can be very different than for someone else. Some people are visual and therefore you need to use graphics to help them do what they need to do on your site. But what about people that resonate with plain text? You've got to figure out what the needs of your audience(s) are and then have those needs (goals) drive the decision-making.
The other benefit of setting specific goals is that, in addition to providing direction to the project, they will also act as the baseline for measuring the success of the project upon completion.
The question is, how do you arrive at these specific goals? The answer is research.
You have to know your audience(s). You have to find out what resonates with them and then generate your specific goals from the results. Any project you do isn't for you, it might be about you and/or your organization, but it needs to be for the audience. It needs to speak their language and resonate with them. Too often we presume that our boardrooms represent our constituents when that's not actually true. Research will reveal that.
The challenge with research beyond the fact that it's not often budgeted for from both time and money perspectives, is that, like gut instinct, it's no silver bullet on it's own. The numbers and responses generated from a survey require interpretation.
That's where the experience I talked about yesterday comes in best. While it's true that either one on its own may lead to a successful project completion, when used in conjunction, quality research results and gut instincts informed by experience create an environment where decisions have the best chance of leading to a successful outcome.