Instead of starting with goals, we will start with a motive. A long term why framed as a reason. This motive should be substantial enough that everyone can agree that there is a problem, and a good reason. A motive should avoid a solution, but instead articulate a measurable change and the reason why the team or company needs to make progress on this now.
We lose 50% of customers between adding an item into their shopping cart and checkout. We need to reduce that to lower than 20% because it represents 50% of our potential revenue and turning more potential customers into actual customers will increase sales by $10,000,000.
It's hard to argue with the above. You might have larger problems in your company, so it might not be the highest priority, but once it made it to the top of the list for a team this motive could certainly consume a lot of energy.
Notice a couple of important things:
There is no indication of how or solutioning here, that comes in the next step. It's critical to avoid XY problems in this stage. If you are a team of one, and you are going to personally carry out all these stages for yourself, you can cut yourself some slack here, but most of us work in groups and teams, and it's not uncommon to get problems and goals identified by management and the response to come from a different group.
The motive includes an answer to why we need to fix this problem, and it's specific. It takes the form of Problem — Target — Why — What we get if we solve it. Each of those elements has a measurable thing that we can approach and move toward over time.
A good motive is unlikely to have a single solution, and more importantly, there aren't that many silver bullets in life, you would never look at a solution to this problem, and reject it because it only improved this problem by 20%. Yes that is short of completing the motive, but still that's a lot of progress. Good motives are directional, and identify the point where you might stop and re-priortize, but set up room for incremental progress.
A motive is something that almost any member of the team could sink their teeth into and in fact that's the next part of this framework.
It's perfectly reasonable to take problem statements as far as a motive statement and get them queued up as next, or later. Check before you take them to the next stage to make sure they are still valid.
Remember earlier when I said that your motives should be pretty uncontroversial? This makes them uniquely challenging to debate. Depending on the scale of your company, you might only be able to tackle a single motive at a time. Or maybe you are big and can tackle ten. This will take some practice to figure out. Don't bite off more than you can chew.
Up Next: Defining your Approach
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