This is the second post of my series How can a Goal Tree help you changing job? The first step is focused on the personal Goal statement. This second one is about identifying the Critical Success Factors to achieving your Goal.
What are Critical Success Factors?
Critical Success Factors (CSFs) are top most objectives and prerequisites altogether that must be achieved in order for the Goal to be achieved. They are a kind of summary of the underlying prerequisites and should be measurable.
Let’s take the Goal statements proposed in part 1 and look for the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) candidates.
Goal : “I am a recognized and sought-after expert of the Peruvian flying tiger ant”
In order to be a “recognized and sought-after expert of the Peruvian flying tiger ant”, it is necessary to develop a real expertise on the subject, which in turn requires specific studies and research on this very subject. In order to be recognized, one must publish or share his/her expertise with people able to certify the great knowledge and acknowledge the expertise. And in order to be actively sought by people having interest about the “Peruvian flying tiger ant” some active advertising or marketing is necessary.
From that 3 Critical Success Factors can be picked: Expertise, Publishing and Marketing. Those CSFs may need to be refined and rephrased during the deeper analysis of the underlying Necessary Conditions. As a matter of fact, CSFs are often confused with NCs at the beginning of the Tree building process. Things become clearer as the Tree builders delve into the details of the NCs (and with the guidance of a knowledgeable facilitator!).
Goal : “I am a famous orthopedic surgeon and professor, specialized in hand surgery with international reputation and leading a top team in a first class institute”.
This Goal statement has obviously 3 pillars to support it:
- The suitable medical education and career
- Building and nurturing an international reputation
- Being hired as head of speciality in a first class institute
All of them atop a network of specific Necessary Conditions and converging to achieving the Goal.
The suitable medical education and career CSF for instance has “being appointed professor” near it’s top. But before being a surgeon professor, it is necessary to be a surgeon and in order to become a surgeon, it is mandatory to complete a MD degree, which requires an enrollment in Medical School, which requires a bachelor degree, etc.
Check if the CSFs summarize the underlying NCs
“The suitable medical education and career” is a summary of all that and qualifies as a Critical Success Factor for a beginning. Without all that, no way to achieve the Goal.
Note the use of “in order to” or “necessary” in the analysis, which points to the Necessity-based logic used in a Goal Tree.
Another CSF is enjoying an international reputation, and the third CSF is being hired as head of speciality in a first class institute. Each of them with their own series of prerequisites or Necessary Conditions to achieve it and ultimately enable to achieve the Goal.
In this fictitious example of an early-stage personal Goal Tree, the Goal is defined and 3 CSFs identified though not verbalized yet, hence the notes holding the idea.
The sticky notes may let this draft of a Goal Tree look like a brainstorming exercise, which it is not. Brainstorming is about creativity, Goal Tree is about rational, necessity-based logic analysis.
It is okay to start listing the most obvious Necessary Conditions on sticky notes, pause and iterate to refine them, patching the missing entities up to the point the Goal Tree is complete and robust.
Can your CSFs be used to control your trajectory toward your Goal?
In our second example, the CSFs can certainly be used to monitor the progress towards the Goal:
- The medical education up to being a surgeon has several milestones that can be used for that, as well as the progress towards each of the milestones.
- The reputation will be built step-by-step, and is measurable through several indicators like the number of quotes, invitations to speak or teach, etc.
- Leading a specialized team in a first class institute is easy to assess as well
Once the Goal is stated, the next step is to identify the 3 to 5 Critical Success Factors with are the top most Necessary Conditions, a summary of the underlying structure of Necessary Conditions and provide means to monitor the progress towards the Goal.
Do not panic if in doubt about a CSF that must be reverted into a NC and vice-versa, this is common when starting building a Goal Tree. The logic of it all will become clearer as the Tree grows. The entities usually find their right place quite naturally. If not, the help of an experienced practitioner is advised.