Process vs S.M.A.R.T.

fair groundsHere is an example of a team participating in a process when they thought they were implementing a strategy.

The team of six wanted to sell products to customers. They had no set goal as to how many products they wanted to sell.

Each member purchased 50 sample products from the parent company, a product that was competitively priced and was used daily by anyone, regardless of age, sex, or social status. The team scheduled appearances at several local health fairs. At each fair, one or two team members would set their table with signs, put out stacks of the samples and stood at-the-ready with a one page survey form they had developed.

When a visitor at the health fair stopped by their table, they were asked if they would like a free sample. Those who said “Yes” were asked to complete the survey before they were given a sample. At the end of the month, the six members of the team had been present at three health fairs and had given away a total of 250 samples. They had gathered 250 completed surveys. They had no new customers.

They had successfully completed a process, and they could measure the results of that process. But they never decided what results they wanted from the process. They had no specific goal, no defined strategy to meet that goal, and no method to measure their progress towards the goal.

It is not a case of the team doing something wrong. The process worked, but it was a costly and time-consuming process and did not move the group towards what they hoped would be their goal. It did not take advantage of each individual member’s strengths, it did not attempt to identify and plan for a target market, and it did not reflect the well-defined strategy. The team thought they might achieve something, but they did not plan for what they wanted to achieve.

If the team described above had wanted to increase their customer base, then they could have set a goal perhaps, of a 15 percent increase by the month’s end. The strategy would be to participate in a specific number of health fairs, collect surveys and distribute samples, and then employ a follow-up action to register new customers who had expressed a positive response on the survey — all part of a defined strategy to met their collective goal!

Assuming all things being equal, with three health fairs, each one should produce a 33 percent increase in the customer base. It might have. The team will never know. They never followed up because that was not part of a defined strategy. They had no goal. They did not have a vision of where the team wanted to be.

Here is what they could have done. The team had a limited budget for purchasing samples, which is why they purchased 250. There are five team members; so each gets 50 samples.

  1. Let’s say they set a goal of adding 15% new customers to their existing customer base. That converts into 38 (37.5) new customers from the 250 samples available.
  2. There are three health fairs, and that translates into a goal of 12 new customers per health fair. Now they have a goal.
  3. Next they need to define a strategy designed to reach that goal and a system for measuring their progress. Then they have a plan and something tangible to measure!


Your comments are welcomed.


About Bob McCarthy

Originally from the Northeast, I now call Southwest Florida home. I have been a professional copywriter and editor since 1979, both freelance and in house. I have had article published in regional, national and international magazines. Plus, a video for which I wrote the script won an industry award as Best Training Video.
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