Examples of Bad Objectives
If good objectives follow the acronym SMART (specific, measurable, action-driven, realistic, time-bound) then bad objectives conversely do not follow this example. Read these poorly written objectives to get an idea:
- Increase the number of clients our company serves.
- Make customers happy.
- Create some sort of new product.
- Make more money.
- Achieve success.
- Share knowledge.
- Find funding.
- Eliminate quality problems.
The reasons these objectives are bad are because they lack specifics, they don’t rely upon actions, or they focus upon a means to an end rather than an end.
Let’s look at the final example: “Eliminate quality problems.” The statement isn’t specific enough. By changing this objective to be more specific, measurable, action-driven, realistic, and time-bound, it can become a good objective. First, the statement needs to be more specific. What kind of quality problems need to be eliminated? If the product is software, perhaps there need to be fewer bugs in the software. The objective might, then be: Reduce the number of bugs in the software.
This isn’t enough however, because we still don’t know how much reduction is enough. In order to answer this question, the objective can be rewritten to read, “Reduce the number of bugs in the software by 75 percent.” What are the actions that will be taken to reduce the number of bugs? Is this a realistic figure? When will this be completed?
All of these questions must be answered in order to produce an objective that is useful in the project planning process. A final statement of the above objective might be: “Reduce the number of bugs in the software by 75 percent, using careful beta testing and implementing corrections by June.”