Goals and Projects: What’s the difference?

Submitted by Mike Roy

In the upcoming months, I am planning on working with Chris Norris to develop a project directory for all of LIS that will allow us to present to ourselves and our constituents an overview of all of the projects that we are working on. In addition, I am also keen to see us improve upon our goal setting process from last year so that we also have a comprehensive list of all of our goals in a single place for us to see what we’ve committed to accomplishing in the upcoming year.

In thinking about how to approach these two activities, I’ve begun to wonder: is there a difference between a goal and a project? Are there projects that can’t be described in the language of goals? Are there goals that can’t be described in the language of a project? It seems to me that they could sensibly be handled with a single list.

As I envision this list of our goals and projects would let us know:

  • the name of the goal or project
  • a description
  • the date it would begin
  • the date it would end
  • the people and resources involved in achieving it
  • who would benefit from it being completed

I’m interested to hear from the rest of LIS about whether or not they think this is the right information to keep track of, what differences they see between goals and projects, and what we can do to optimize the benefit of this, and minimize the cost (time and energy) of maintaining such lists.

1 thought on “Goals and Projects: What’s the difference?

  1. Mary Backus

    I think there is a difference between Goals and Projects, though they are related. I define a Goal as an Outcome to be achieved (and there should be specific measurements that would be defined and used as indicators that the outcome/goal had been achieved or not), and projects would be ways of achieving that Goal/Outcome. An example of this is Printing. Our Goal/Outcome related to printing might be: 1. Increase the reliability and uptime of public printers by 20% by the end of 2009. Print Management implementation would be a Project that we undertake to assist in meeting that Goal, but it is not in itself a Goal or Outcome. (We could be successful in implementing Print Management, but find it is not enough to meet that Goal, and more actions are needed).
    I support the idea of a Project Directory as a way for all of us to see what Projects LIS is working on and the status of each, and would like to see what Goals/Outcomes each Project is being taken on to support. This would help us to be careful that the Projects we undertake are aligned with LIS and Department Goals, and that we stay focused on the Goals we set each year, and not get off track taking on too many Projects that might be asked of us.


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