Step 3: Clarify and Prioritize the Problem(s) If there is more than one problem, you will need to prioritize the problems so you can focus on the most important problems first. Ask the following questions to help you sort the problems with the higher priority issues at the top of the list. Which problem could result in negative consequences in terms of cow or employee health? Are any of the problems putting the operation in danger of being in noncompliance with regulations? Which problems have the greatest impact on the long-term economic stability of the operation? Which problems have short-term impact on the stability of the operation? In this case we only have one problem -- lack of a consistent ration so prioritization is not necessary. Step 4: Write a Goal Statement for Each Solution The next step in the process is setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, or goals that are: S - Specific M - Measurable A - Achievable R - Relevant T - Timely The team needs to go through the problems that have been identified and evaluate them for each of these items. If all the goals that have been set are S.M.A.R.T. goals, great -- you are ready to move on to Monitoring Progress. Otherwise, work with the team to make the necessary adjustments to make the goals S.M.A.R.T. S - SPECIFIC Specific goals are clear and focused, not broad, ambiguous, or general. Specific goals provide specific information on the behaviors that are associated with the goal. These goals indicate who will do what, when and how. Example of a goal that is not specific - "The advisory team will improve Pleasantview Dairy's profitability." Example of a specific goal - "Employees of Pleasantview Dairy will lower feed costs by producing high-quality forages (RFV>125), having forage equipment in top working order by May 1, storing the first crop of hay silage by May 25, and continuing to harvest at 31-day intervals throughout the growing season." M - MEASURABLE Measurable goals provide a measurable indicator of success, so that it becomes easy to monitor progress and determine when success has been attained. Measurements of success may be quantified with numbers or a simple yes/no determination. Example of a goal that is not measurable - "Employees of Pleasantview Dairy will improve feed quality." Example of a measurable goal - "Employees of Pleasantview Dairy will increase the average relative feed value from 100 to greater than 140 for all hay silage stored this summer" or "All ingredients in the TMR will be weighed using the electronic scales and delivered to the feed bunk by 10:00 a.m." A - ACHIEVABLE Achievable goals are realistic, and well within the abilities, responsibilities and resources of the management and staff. This does not mean that goals must be easy to achieve. Every effort should be made to reach a higher level of performance. Sometimes "stretch" goals can encourage someone to step out of their comfort zone and tackle tasks in a new, challenging, yet achievable way that results in overall improvement for the operation. Example of a goal that is not achievable - "Milk yields will exceed x amount," where x is beyond the limitations for the breed of cattle, facilities and management of the operation. Example of an achievable goal - "Farm employee x will mix feed ingredients accurately (wet feed less than 5 percent and dry feed less than 1 percent error) and deliver it to the cows by 10:00 a.m." R - RELEVANT A relevant goal is appropriate to a person who will be attempting to achieve it and to the overall goals and objectives of the farm. Example of a goal that is not relevant - "All feed will be delivered to the cows by 10:00 a.m." This goal is easy enough to measure and achieve, but doesn't do anything to ensure the quality of the feed. Example of a relevant goal - "Farm staff will improve milk production and lower feed waste by assuring that the computed ration is fed to the cows accurately, in the proper amounts and by 10:00 a.m. each morning." T - TIMELY The attainment of a goal should not be open-ended, but set for a specific time. As much as possible, the exact date the goal is to be achieved should be determined. When a goal has a deadline, it provides a measurable point and speeds progress toward critical goals. Employees will generally put more emphasis on goals that have specific deadlines than on those for which no time for measurement has been established. Example of a goal that is not timely - "We will increase milk sold per worker to 1.2 million pounds." Example of a timely goal - "We will increase milk sold per worker to 1.2 million pounds by July 1 of next year." Now, back to our example - an appropriate S.M.A.R.T. goal for this situation would be to write a standard operating procedure (SOP) by tomorrow evening's feeding so that everyone that is assigned to feed the cows unexpectedly can easily follow the steps and assure that the cows are fed correctly twice daily, at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.