Friday, November 09, 2007

Specifying Goals

Name: Specifying Goals
Type: Rules
Status: final
Version: 2007-12-20
Source: various authors, including D. Doering ('Die Logik des Misslingens')
Gist: to describe goals (of an organization, of an IT system, …) in a clear and useful fashion
Note: like always, goals are a kind of requirement. So it doesn't hurt at all if you use the rules to lower levels of requirements, e.g. system requirements.
R1: Seperate different goals, even if they seem interrelated, for you can reference them.
R2: Name each goal unambiguously, use a short name.
R3: use the PAM structure:
P urpose
A dvantage
M easure
Purpose: Supplies a higher level rationale for the goal. Understanding the why gives you freedom in finding proper solutions.
Advantage: Differentiates the goal from others and from non-goals. So you also know what NOT to achieve.
Measure: Keeps you on track and supports your communication with the higher management. Gives you a clear sense of 'done' and provides satisfaction at the end. Makes it possible to evaluate measures concerning suitability and effectiveness.
R4: Iterate! There's nothing bad about changing goals along the way. Please restate the set of goals, though.
R5: Avoid comparatives, work until you know what they really mean. Try decomposing a comparative goal into a number of specific goals.
R6: Mind if you specify positive (get to x) or negative goals (avoid y). A positive goal gives you fewer opportunities to succeed than a negative goal, which can be good or bad. Be aware of the possibility that someone states a goal negatively because he does not know how it can be stated positively. You're bound to fail, not within the scope of the stated goals but in the scope of the real goals. Negative goals tend to be too global.
R7: global and specific goals are good, unclear goals are bad. try to make a global goal specific, however. if your global goal is unsufficient and you cannot come to a specific goal, try stating intermediate goals that maximise the opportunity of success. How? By specifying many subgoals with a good chance of reaching them. another way to put it is: try to set goals so, that by adhering to them you will be in a better tactical position towards your strategy.
global: the future state is determined by few (sometimes only one) criteria
specific: the future state is determined by many criteria
unclear: the future state is not determined by a sufficient number of criteria
R8: be extremely suspicious if you seem to have only one goal. this situation is very rare and the phenomenon indicates you forgot a number of goals.