Developing the Aim Statement
From: M. D. Anderson Department of Performance Improvement
Date: January 15, 2008

Leslie Cernosek: Hi we are Leslie Cernosek ...

Tara Villarreal: And Tara Villarreal.

Leslie Cernosek: And we're here from the M. D. Anderson Information Line. We have been asked to come and speak a little bit about aim statements. We have a lot of experience in this department because we've been acting as facilitators in our department for the last two years on different projects and teams that our department has been running. An aim statement is to our basic understanding is pretty much a statement of what you're trying to achieve.

Tara Villarreal: There are several different things to remember about the importance of an aim statement and one of those is that your aim statement guides your entire project. Another one is it keeps you on task so it's helpful whenever you are going through the team to maybe go back to your aim statement so that you can remember exactly what's your goal and thirdly it helps you focus on what you are trying to achieve.

Leslie Cernosek: One thing that we really wanted to share with y’all is you have to keep in mind that an aim statement is not the easiest thing to grasp right away. You want to make sure that you have a good one to guide your whole project so we wanted to share with you a few drafts of basically a mistake we made and kept trying to fix. Our first draft, what we were trying to work on was a project to improve communication so what we came up with first was improve communication networking between the Information Line and the care centers to obtain clinical information so we can efficiently respond to patient inquiries.

That is lengthy, it's kind of hard to understand and it also has our solution at the end of it which is a big aim statement no-no. So the second thing that we came up with was improve communication between the Information Line and care centers by establishing a contact in each care center. It's obviously shorter but it still has our solution at the end of it.

Tara Villarreal: Another draft that we came up with was to increase communication between the information line and care centers by establishing a contact in each care center. Now the main difference between the one I just read to you and the previous one is that we changed improve to increase to make it more measurable which did make it more measurable but we still have the solution in there and again, we're not supposed to do that.

Leslie Cernosek: Finally (look at) our final draft and you can see the difference between the two. What we came up with in the end was increase(d) communication between the Information Line and the Care Centers. This one is shorter. It's to the point, it's measurable and best of all of it did not include our solution. We finally came upon this after a week and a half of taking it back to the team, taking it to management and we also kept sending it to our coach in performance improvement so he could help us and guide us with getting a good statement because like we said before that's really gonna be how you focus your project and you wanna keep returning to your aim statement so you can look exactly as far as, well like we said basically, just focusing on your project and what you want to achieve at the end of it.

Tara Villarreal: And we kind of want to just say it is difficult at first, at least for us it was, it may not be for all of you but it was and we kept practicing, we made sure that it was something that everyone was happy with and now that we've gone through numerous projects we feel that we are quite a bit better at it and our aim statements have been progressively better. So now we're gonna leave you with a top ten list for aim statements.

Number ten: your aim statement describes what you are trying to achieve.

Leslie Cernosek: Number nine: your aim statement solves a problem that is meaningful.

Tara Villarreal: Number eight: your aim statement is actionable.

Leslie Cernosek: Number seven: your aim is supported by management.

Tara Villarreal: Number six: your aim statement is validated by staff.

Leslie Cernosek: Number five: your aim is not a solution, it's a goal.

Tara Villarreal: Number four: your aim statement is broad enough to make a difference but specific enough to be achieved.

Leslie Cernosek: Number three: your aim is the guidance system for team efforts.

Tara Villarreal: Number two: your aim statement may change forms as the project grows.

Leslie Cernosek: And the number one thing about aim statements: your aim statement is a shame if it means something different to everyone who reads it. So that's about all that we have to say and again I'm Leslie Cernosek ...

Tara Villarreal: And I'm Tara Villarreal and we want to thank you for letting us come and share this with you.