Last week, I started a short series on creating a vision of future success. The idea was that you can create from the future backward or from the current state forward. When your vision begins to crystallize into what you might normally state as a goal, consider three types of goals.

1. The What? Goal

This first type of goal focuses on completion of a project, body of work, initiative, etc.

We will do project X with Y quality by Z time.

The caution here is that so often teams and individual start and stop with a What? goal, instead of pushing to get at the So What? of that completion.

2. The How? Goal

The second type of goal is most often used when a team or organization wants to build new capability or make a shift in its culture. It’s about fundamentally changing how the work gets done or the relationships are developed or employees are managed, etc.

We will improve our cross-team collaboration.

These How? goals are important, but must be clarified and tied to a So What? to be most effective. Answering the question “What do you mean by collaboration? in a very specific behavioral way. The so what gets at the intention of the how? goal. What is the business or organizational outcome that improved collaboration will generate?

3. The So What? Goal

You are probably getting the idea that the So What? goal is critical. And, it’s often missing, except for hard outcomes like revenues, budget, etc. Those are easy. To really test your What? and How? goals, build in a second part of the goal.

We will do project X with Y quality by Z time so that run times are reduced by 10%.

We will improve our cross-team collaboration so that 2015 product launches exceed target sales.

In other words, think through the work completion to true desired outcome as much as is possible. Just working through the possibility of that impact can help you shape or reshape the goal and the work plan.

Everyday, you have the opportunity to set your intention for a task, meeting,  phone call or conversation by quickly thinking about the What? How? and So What? of that interaction or work product. If you know what you want to create (exactly), you have a much better chance of getting there.