Goal setting in an ambiguous field

If you work in the front end of design or innovation you have probably already encountered this bizarreness in goal setting. Especially if you work in a corporate setting.

Consultancies and agencies are generally pretty happy with Goals staying at the top level, ie Company financial performance goals. Then it becomes up to heads of departments to figure out at a personal level in their staff and it’s normally done on a subjective and also project based (since projects are bread and butter of consultancies they are easily measurable)

In Corporations personal performance goals are a funny thing, often HR loves to lock them down hard and fast, using systems like SMART. There are a couple of drawbacks in the front end with goals in corporate world.

  1. Since projects are not the critical lifeline of corporations they tend to be unreliable measures, often started, stopped, derailed, canceled, changed. This can really thwart personal performance measures.
  2. Corporations often have difficulty identifying big goals (non task based) for personal performance. It’s easy to say you are going to make 1000 widgets this month off your assembly line and you can measure to that. But who in the front end has that luxury of being that measurable?, and if you are, then you are a jr or low level player in the front end where your work is very task based and not very strategic.
  3. A common thread for Visionary or strategic goals is to break them down into milestones. This goes back to problem #1, the Strategy then gets converted to a “project” with a series of tasks that can be thwarted at any stage. Maybe this speaks to longevity?
  4. Longevity — in corporations goals are set that are expected to last 12months, so there can be a 6 month check in.In reality if you are in a very volitile corporation, you might need to re-write your specific personal performance goals every 3 months. This sounds fine but it’s not. It’s a waste of time and often the corporate HR doesn’t account for that.

Do you have any ideas how to make Personal performance Goals for designers and people at the front end of design / innovation?