AI-SMART Objectives

I loved reading about Kapta’s insightful software service that helps organizations align day-to-day actions with strategic objectives and wanted to revisit the topic of SMART objectives that I wrote about back in 2007.

Kapta’s CEO, Alex Raymond, has some great insights about what makes for a good organizational objective.  Specifically, I like his notions of:

  • Ambitious — “The goal should be bold and exciting, something for people to rally around. Not impossible to reach, but still aggressive.”
  • Inclusive — “Everyone in the company needs to understand how they contribute to each goal. Otherwise, employees can lose motivation and clarity.”

Adding those notions to the SMART framework, one would obtain “AI SMART” objectives:

  • Ambitious — aim high
  • Inclusive — everyone can contribute
  • Specific — concrete, actionable
  • Measurable — we’ll know if we hit the mark
  • Attainable — realistic to achieve
  • Results-oriented — produces a meaningful impact
  • Time-bound — by a certain due date

I’m going to start using this framework for assessing goals.  It’s the start of a quarter…   I hope this is helpful for all of you out there setting quarterly objectives and OKR’s!

Five Points for Better Exec Summaries and Briefings

Here’s a quick five-point format for executive summary/briefing documents.  This is intended to be a short “get to know you” briefing for prospective investors.  It’s also supposed to be a scalable document — that is, you can expand it into a full business pitch deck by fleshing out each section more.  Or you can compress it all the way down into a single paragraph by just putting the punchlines together.

I’d recommend doing this in a single page (it’s good discipline to be brief).   The bullet points of each section should all build towards the punchline.
1) Team
  • Bullet points: Quick recap of team members’ experience
  • Punchline: why your team has the right experience and/or unique industry connections that give you an unfair advantage in this business
2) Market size
  • Bullet points: who are your paying customers?   who are your users (for ad/audience-driven businesses)?  what’s the overall industry size?  what specific segment (or sub-segment) of that industry are you going to dominate?  how big is that segment (e.g., how many customers/users are there in your target initial segment multiplied by your expected penetration of that segment multiplied by anticipated customer lifetime value)?
  • Punchline: there’s a believable path for the company to get to $100MM in annual revenue
3) Customer tests
  • Bullet points: if working alpha/beta product, then what are the customer/user activity stats like?  if no product yet, then what surveys, smoke tests, or mockup tests have you run?
  • Punchline: we’re not just sitting in an office making up a business plan; we’ve gone out to talk with real customers or users, lots of them.  We’ve tested working product or realistic mockups with customers/users and they like it.
4) Distribution strategy
  • Bullet points: how will your customers/users learn about your service?  how much do you need to pay per customer/user acquisition?  how will you drive a customer/user adoption curve that is doubling every month?
  • Punchline: we know how to reach customers/users.  we’re not gonna end up blowing your money on building something that it turns out we can’t sell.
5) Deal and Milestones
  • Bullet points: how much are you looking to raise?  what will that money be used for; e.g., what milestones will you hit?  what questions will you be able to answer with this investment?  which risks will be de-risked with this investment?  how long will these milestones take to achieve?
  • Punchline: your money is going to buy significant reductions in risk (and therefore significant increases in the next valuation)

Hope that’s helpful.  Did I miss anything?  Leave any questions or edits in the comments section…  Thanks!