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An Example of a Really Important Goal

Consider, for example, the project that God gave to Noah. God's voice boomed, "Build an ark of gopher wood, 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. And do it in seven months, when I will destroy the earth by flood. Take a male and female of every animal; we are starting over." Pretty important goal, right? If Noah had failed, the entire human race would be wiped out; Noah had to develop a POWER goal and an effective plan for the sake of all people on the earth.

So, let's see. Was the goal Pinpointed? Yes, it was clear that Noah had to build an ark. Owned and agreed-upon? Who can argue with God? Noah believed God was telling the truth about the coming flood; hence he accepted the fact that he needed to accomplish the goal. Well defined? Not too clear on the animals but clear on the dimensions of the ark. Energizing, based on a feeling the goal was realistic? Yes, Noah was a fisherman who knew about boats; he knew it was possible to build this ark. Resource framed? Yes and no. Rains were to begin in seven months; costs not clarified. So we can imagine some discussion between Noah and God about the project planning—Noah questioning God on size, type of wood, animals to be excluded/included, why the flood; and God explaining and refining the goal until Noah was completely clear about it. Perhaps you have similar discussions with your supervisors. The question to ask is, does your project have a POWER goal? If not, keep working at it until your project goal meets the POWER criteria.

Why not take a minute now to write down the goal for one of your projects. Then check it against the POWER criteria. Is your project goal a POWER goal: Is it pinpointed, owned, well defined, energizing, and resource framed?

The importance of spending sufficient time and energy on the goal-setting process cannot be overemphasized. To paraphrase what winning project team leaders have told us: Goal setting takes significant time and energy, but you can't reach the finish line and get the checkered flag without clear and compelling goals! Effective goal setting is crucial for your projects because it provides a common vision that gives members of the team a sense of ownership. Clear goals build excitement and passion. They keep the team members focused through to the project's completion.

Project goal not a POWER goal? You are in the slow lane, heading for disappointment and away from the checkered flag that goes to a winning project team!

Before we leave this first rule of effective project leadership, let us again emphasize that a POWER goal needs to become a common vision for every member of the team as well as for the end user. It is your job to keep everyone's eyes focused on that target until it is fully achieved. You cannot let the flame of passion burn out before the job is done if you want that checkered flag!

How can you ensure that people keep their eyes on the goal? First, make certain that the goal is in writing and is distributed to everybody on your team. Second, constantly remind people what the goal is. One of the primary responsibilities of a project leader is to keep the overall vision of the goal squarely in front of people. Third, be sure that project team members always know what they are trying to accomplish for the person or group who will ultimately use their product. Doing this improves communication, reduces tension, empowers team members to contribute and monitor their efforts relative to the goal. Bottom line, it helps ensure that your project will be completed on time, within budget, and with high quality. Everyone will be cheering when you and your team cross the finish line of the race to a waving checkered flag!

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