Building the personal development plan 4

Building the Scorecard

This should be our last installment of building out the personal development plan.  In our last blog we ended up with the outline of a scorecard that looked like this:


To finish out our plan we have to fall back on the idea of SMART goals.  SMART goals have been brought up quite a bit in these blogs but, as a reminder, SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time sensitive.  When building out our CFOs and big rocks we spent a lot of time talking about specificity and relevance.  In this final section we will dive into attainability, time sensitivity and measurability.

Time Sensitivity and Attainability

Nothing spurs urgency like a deadline.  Think about those papers you had to write in school or those times you had to get something done by end of day for a client.  Something magical happens when the urgency lever is pulled.  There is typically a little fear involved but it is productive fear.  That productive fear forces us to focus.  It’s amazing what you can accomplish with purpose and focus.

It’s difficult to hold ourselves accountable for personal growth so we have to employ some tricks to convince our lizard brain that these goals are fight or flight worthy.  This starts with building out deadlines that we have to commit to.  These are goals that we have determined to be big rocks, some of the most important things we want to change in our lives.  That should be worth building some urgency around.

The first thing we need to remember about big rocks is that we are working at the one month goal level.  All big rocks should be accomplished within 30 days.  When we set the deadlines for our big rocks, our end date has to be less than 30 days away.  We also want to have a start date for our big rocks so that we draw out any dependencies between rocks.  If one of our rocks is dependent on another being completed, we need to know how and when those dependencies will work out.


In the example above, all start and end dates have been filled in.  The size column is a t-shirt size estimate of how big we think the big rock is going to be to accomplish.  This is a very loose estimate.  The reason we ask ourselves to estimate is to take a first stab at quantifying how much work this actually is.  This is where we need to pull out the realism glasses and really look if these rocks are attainable within the next 30 days.

If you have a bunch of XLs and larges, your chance of completing these rocks is probably pretty small.  The rule of thumb here is that if you have more than one or two larges, you should probably attempt to slice your rocks into smaller, attainable chunks.  Remember that you will have two more months to complete your three month critical few objectives (CFOs) so you do not need to get all of this done in the first month.

While setting goals, it is always good to reach but they have to be attainable.  If you reach too far, if you get to the finish date and have none of your goals completed, what do you think is going to happen?  Exactly.  You’re going to throw the whole scorecard away as another failed tool.  We want this process to be aspirational but not a pipe dream.  If you pick the right rocks, the results will inspire.  If you chase something that’s not attainable, you’re gonna have a bad time.


“What gets measured gets improved.” – Peter Drucker

Measurement is the secret sauce to the whole system.  To explain why, let’s first talk about a subject near and dear to my heart, quantum physics.  One of the foundations of quantum mechanics is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.  The principle states that there is a fundamental limit to what one can know about a quantum system.  That’s not the interesting part though.  The interesting part is the thought experiment that goes with the Uncertainty Principle.  Ignoring the wave/particle duality of light for a moment, Heisenberg asked us to think about photographing an electron to determine its position.  If we try to photograph an electron, we have to hit it with at least one photon, or light particle.  When we hit it with the photon, we will be imparting energy to that electron causing it to move.  So the very act of measuring the particle’s position changes its position.  Hence the uncertainty.  Another way of saying this:  the act of measurement drives change.  This isn’t some old wives tale or management principle, it’s physics baby.

On a fundamental level, we know measurement drives change.  If you want to lose weight, what do you think would work better?  You do your best to eat better and get exercise when you can, then get on the scale every day and see the results, OR you sign up for Lose It! and measure every calorie you eat and calculate every calorie you burn, then get on the scale?  You got it.  The very act of measuring every calorie you take in changes your interaction with food!  You know, if you’re being honest with yourself, that you will have to enter that 750 calorie bowl of ice cream in to your food log for the day.  Is that really worth it?  You may decide that it is, but now it is a conscious choice that has a discrete cost rather than something that you kind of know is a bad idea.  That changes the whole system.

So that’s what you’re looking for when you are building metrics.  You are looking for measurements that will change your interaction with the system.  This is not always easy and will probably require a little iteration to get right.  One of the questions that is always worth asking when building your metrics is: will this measurement change our behavior in the direction we want to change?


Now it will also turn out that a lot of your big rocks may just end up being tasks, simple to dos.  That’s fine.  To dos are a big part of this but the big rocks that require measurement are typically the ones that will drive the most change.  You need a strong combination of both types of rocks when you are building out the scorecard to make progress on your three month critical few objectives.

Once we set our metric, we need to set our goal for that metric for the week.  If our goal is to lose five pounds in a month we know that we need to lose a little over a pound a week to hit that, not plan on losing all five in the last week.  That is what the OBJ column is for, weekly objective.

We now have our scorecard!  In our next process blog we will discuss how we manage the scorecard on a weekly basis.


Building the personal development plan 2

The personal development plan

When we last wrote about building the personal development plan, we ended with building out the four skills and passions that we wanted to focus on over the next three months.  These skills recognized the character strengths necessary to improve or create these skillsets.

The finale of that step looked something like this:


When building these skills out with some of the groups we’ve worked with, the number one piece of feedback we received was that it is difficult to come up with skills and passions that you want to improve when they are not related to problems being faced in the day to day.  Utilizing that feedback, our next sessions will prime the pump before we start deciding on skills.  We will do this by asking our users to first think of those things in the last couple of months where they fell short on something, they felt scared, or they were disappointed in their own performance.  We will be asking them to do this in all four life categories of Work, Health, Play and Love.  Once these issues have been identified we will then ask our users to build out the skills and passions that would have changed these outcomes for the better.


Once the skills and passions have been identified, we then move on to how we are going to act on them.  In a previous post we discussed the benefits of WOOP.  This is a great tool for crystallizing goals.  Once we have identified the problem space and the skills and strengths necessary to overcome those problems, we focus on specifics.  This is where WOOP becomes the go to tool.

The first step of WOOP is the Wish element.  We spend a couple minutes thinking about the most important goal we wish to accomplish in the next three months related to the particular skill or problem set.  Once we have this written down, we focus on outcome.  Outcome forces us to ask: if your wish were fulfilled, what would be the best possible outcome?  How would that outcome make you feel?

Some of ours users struggled with understanding the difference between wish and outcome.  Most of our test group seemed to think it was the same thing.  The difference between the two steps is that the wish is defining what you want to accomplish and the outcome is taking the step of visualizing the positive outcome.  Most of our users believed that they were doing that anyway in the wish step so felt the outcome step was redundant.  To each their own.  We are going to keep both steps because we believe that reinforcing the visualization of success is really powerful.  Not all users will do that in the wish step and we want to make sure that we explicitly call this out.

Once the Wish and the outcome steps have taken place, we end up with something like this:


In the next step we explore our obstacles.  This is where we spend some time trying to understand what is going to prevent us from hitting our goal.  The trick is to be specific.  There are a lot of obstacles that we don’t have any control over.  So we need to hone our focus by asking: what is your main inner obstacle?  What within you is holding you back from accomplishing this wish?  This is a critical step in pulling ourselves out of the victim mindset.  In this step, we are acknowledging that our biggest challenges come from within.

Once we identify the obstacle, we work on the plan.  This is a traditional If..then statement.  If we hit this obstacle then we take this action.  The question we ask: what can you do to overcome this obstacle?  What action can you take when it arises?  This plan gives us the power to do something about the obstacles we know we will run into.

Here’s an example of this phase:


This was just the first of four WOOPs.  Once all four WOOPs are completed, we then move on to building our vision.

Critical Few Objectives (CFOs)

The critical few objectives concept comes from the balanced scorecard discipline.  These objectives are critical because they are our top priorities for the three month period.  If we complete them, they will have a changing impact on our lives.  They are few because our only chance at success is if we keep focus.  The whole thing only works if we pick a small number of achievable goals.  We set the max here at four.  Finally the objective is the SMART goal that comes out of the WOOP Process.

As an aside, we did receive some feedback that we are using way too many acronyms.  Guilty as charged.  This all comes from a biz background where the landscape is littered with these capitalized eyesores.  We will be working to personalize our terms as we build the software.

To build each of our CFOs, we ask our participants to come up with some combination of wish and outcome to create the CFO.  This is primarily a wordsmithing task at this stage.  Here’s an example of two CFOs:


The three month vision

Once all the CFOs are created, they fit nicely into a vision statement.  The vision statement becomes the north star for the next three months.  The beginning and end of the vision statement are boilerplate for the first plan.  Moving forward these become custom tailored as our users get closer to defining their own purpose.  Here is an example of a vision statement.


The vision becomes the keystone for building out the rest of the scorecard.  Stay tuned as we’ll cover that in our next process blog!