May 12, 2009
Don’t do objectives SMART. Do them Concrete first.
You’re in London in a conference assisting to a lot of talking about spreadsheets online. Everyone agrees that they suck in user experience. You’re feeling the agreement from audience that Excel is the standard in that matter. (You can argue against this, but it’s not the point here!).
You have one team available to start working right now on this great new idea you have about spreadsheets online. You decided to take the risk and tweet your team:
Our project is to build the next generation Online spreadsheet, that runs everywhere, every time and offers the ultimate user experience.
Wow. What a project.
“But what does it mean?” – your team tweet you back a minute later. Maybe they hit some analysis paralysis state and are wondering “wtf ultimate user experience is??”
Now, consider twittering the following:
Create a spreadsheet with the usability of MS Excel and can run on major Web Browsers (Firefox, Opera, Chrome, IE) by the end of 2009.
Would your team take only a minute to get back to you?
Probably no. You can get your team start immediately with planning and setting the appropriate infrastructure to start the project. Your team will want to start right now because they know exactly what to do and by when; moreover, they can remember it easily.
This was accomplished by what Chip & Dan Heath call the “Velcro Theory of Memory” by creating hooks in the team’s memory.
With the second tweet you also helped your team because you have prioritized the features you want in the next release. It’s ok to say to some VC that we’re building “the next generation Online spreadsheet, that runs everywhere, anytime and offers the ultimate user experience”, but if we’re talking to our Teams, I think we must be more concrete.
Worth to take a look at the book “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die“. Has a lot of more interesting stuff to learn.