Goals vs. Tactics
It can be easy to confuse or interchange goals and tactics. A goal is the end outcome that you want to achieve. A tactic is a tool/activity used to reach that goal. It is important to view them as two distinct things. Sometimes with community work, people focus so much on the tactics that they forget the overall goal, which impacts project sustainability. For example, a cleanup is a tactic to achieve the goal of reducing litter. Focusing just on repeated cleanups could be an easy habit to fall into, because it is a tangible, feel-good tactic. However, it does not address the root causes of the ongoing litter.
Strengths | Weaknesses | Opportunities | Threats
As part of creating goals and tactics, as well as asset-mapping, it is very helpful to do a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Thinking through and identifying these things can help to prioritize tactics, projects and goals. This can be a great activity in smaller working groups, or compiled from individuals. When addressing various neighborhood issues, think about who holds power or controls the ‘issue.’ In some cases, this may be an entity or it may be undefinable.
Timelines and Benchmarking
Defining one large overall goal and final deadline without smaller goals, tasks, and evaluation methods will not allow time to make necessary changes and adjustments to strategies, tactics, and larger goals. Not breaking down the process into smaller increments and timelines makes it less likely to meet the overall desired outcome.
Benchmarks are shorter goals and timelines that allow you to build out the incremental steps, goals, and phases that will move the group along to the desired overall goal. It is much easier to identify the long-term goal and timeline first, and then work backward to create medium-term and short-term goals and benchmarks. Goals in any phase should be SMART.