Setting Your Goals Without Jargon (Harvard ManageMentor video)

by Stacey Barr |

Avoiding business jargon helps to set goals that can be achieved and measured. That’s the topic of this Harvard ManageMentor video with Stacey Barr.

How ruthless can you be with replacing weasel words and jargon in your goals, so people really do understand what they mean in a tangible way, and can measure them more easily and meaningfully?

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  1. T N Prabhu says:

    Using sensory language is really a way to involve people. I have read many a time in the past that the reluctance of individuals to participate in a measurement program is a deterrent to the progress of these initiatives. Conversing using sensory languages gives a holistic approach and is less intimidating for the users. It sure will have a civilised and refining effect on people and bring about better participation.
    My suggestion for the implementors to try this method is as follows:
    Let your team members imagine a situation related to your business problem or opportunity in hand and describe them using sensory words. what they write should result is – catching the spirit of the issue,describe what they see etc.
    Encouragement to use colours, shapes, movement and appearance in sight related sensory words, Loud, soft and speech sounds in Sound related sensory words can be tried.

  2. Bryan Hansen says:

    Great stuff Stacey! Looking forward to the other videos (and maybe coming to see you in September in Vancouver).

  3. Excellent take Stacey! This has other implications and many other similar applications too. For example what I use with my clients when they try to create the profile of their top performer is an exercise in which they bring the image of their already top performer in front of them and ask them to think what in their behaviours make them a model for future top performers in their organisation. Then we work on those lines. It’s vivid, comprehensive, highly involving and very effective. Thanks for mentioning sensory language!

    • Stacey Barr says:

      You’re right Michalis, clear and specific language is important in so many areas of life. If only people would let go of their attachment to the idea that jargon and weasel words are required to sound professional and strategic.

  4. Liz Snell says:

    Stacey – this was fantastic. I’m not a jargon type of person and it’s so easy to understand the way you explain things.

  5. P.Srinivas Kumar says:

    Good insight on goal setting.Tried using the concept in setting a goal for my daughther’s performance improvement.Instead of saying you should get good marks and rank, asked her to write down specifically that “Goal is to achieve 95% or more in Maths, physic and chemistry and Less 500 rank in engineering competitive exam”. Am I right here in avoiding the weasel words here in this instance?

    • Stacey Barr says:

      Not bad! Does your daughter feel a strong sense of ownership and excitement to pursue these goals? Did she help in writing them? That would be the ultimate best way, to have her use her own words.

  6. P.Srinivas Kumar says:

    Ofcourse did gave her an idea and she has written on her own…. and whenever her tutor comes for giving tuition, it would be reminder statement for him as well as to her,it seemed to have worked for her SSC exam, however would like to know on how to make the goal statement from not bad to good…

    • Stacey Barr says:

      Srinivas, those goals for your daughter are actually what I would call targets. What would make it all even better (good, or even great) is if you have some measures to monitor her learning process, that might be predictors of her achieving those ultimate targets. These measures should be able to be monitored weekly, so she can track her learning. Examples might include:
      — % correct answers to math problems randomly selected by her tutor
      — average time to solve math problems randomly selected by her tutor
      — average rating of self-perceived anxiety in solving math problems selected by her tutor
      I stress: these are examples only. To derive good predictive measures you need to decide what capabilities she must master in order to achieve such high academic scores.

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