What We've Found
Setting goals can be
an excellent consensus-building activity. It is energizing to watch a group of
people who may start with very different opinions and visions work together and
listen to each other to develop one set of goals. These goals set the stage for
action, defining what tasks will be considered and embraced. By sharing together
in the decision making process to develop goals that everyone agrees upon, we
find this process generates commitment to follow through and getting the work
Goals are brief, positive, written
statements about what a group wants to accomplish. Goal statements also serve as
means of helping everyone stay on track: How is this action going to help
accomplish the goal? Is this work related to what everyone agreed to accomplish?
Goals should be based on reality. That means before setting goals,
issues such as threats to a resource, concerns about the future or pressures
related to use, growth or access all need to be identified. Plus there should be
a general understanding of the effected natural, cultural or recreational
resources. In short, know what is trying to be accomplished and why it is
important to do it.
Goals can be short-term or long-term. They can be
revised and updated to reflect changing environments, accomplished actions and
The terms vision, mission, goals and objectives are
often used interchangeably. They are all related, but very distinct parts of the
puzzle. Here’s how:
- Mission: answers why a project is starting and its purpose.
- Vision: summarizes the ideal state of a project.
- Goal: transforms a vision into a discrete statement of direction.
- Objective: breaks down a goal into tasks that are measurable and
time-oriented (e.g., all maps for the resource will be done by a week from
How To Do It
1. Brainstorm and Document
group of people and a facilitator, such as in a workshop, record participants’
needs, desires and even concerns. If a lot of issues and problems are listed,
work on turning the negative statements into positive ones. Be sure everything
is recorded exactly as the speaker intended and is posted for all to see and
2. Refine, refine, refine
Work with the group
to sort through and focus the ideas, i.e., group ideas that are similar under
one theme. Systematically mark or label each idea so that no one’s thoughts
appear to be disregarded. If one idea or issue does not fit into any of the
themes, and the group decides it is not viable enough to become its own
category, check back with the original speaker to further discuss the idea or to
make sure he or she agrees with the group’s decision.
For each summary
heading, begin creating statements that capture the ideas. The statements should
be in terms of directions and destinations: what do you hope to achieve?
Remember, goals are not visions; they should be statements of what can
realistically be accomplished.
To accomplish this step, depending upon
the size of the group, it may be easier and more productive to divide into
smaller groups having one small group per theme.
3. Develop a
Once there are goals written for all of the themes, review
them together as a group. Each statement should embrace the direction and
potential actions that the entire group desires to take. There may be a lot of
focus on single words, or making subtle changes, but this is important to the
process. Everyone should be comfortable with what is said and how it is
Depending on the situation and the developed goals, you may want to
prioritize goals based on resources (human, environmental, or financial) or
timing if some goals are long-term and others are short-term.
People working together to transform a vision, purpose or
desire into discrete statements of direction.
Use It If...
desire to form consensus among a number of people about what they share in
common and what they want to do.
You want to clarify tasks, calculate
timetables and decide on actions.
Forget It If...
You need action. There’s a clear, single threat that
needs to be fought against and goal setting could be a distraction or use up
You are in the preliminary stages of a project or a group
is just forming. Prior to documenting goals, a group needs to have defined its
mission and vision, or, in other words, have a sense of itself and why it has
Setting goals should happen in the
beginning stages of a project or formation of a group. Goals can be reset on an
annual basis or as work is done to achieve goals.
Goals and Objectives - D7-
Item No. 7-102
Mission and Goals for I-66 -
D12- Item No. 12-66