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Collaborative Goal Setting

Submitted by Jack Byrd, Jr.

Organizations, collaborative groups, and individuals have a need for goals. We often fail to meet our goals because our process for creating the goals is flawed. This activity demonstrates how to collaboratively set goals that are realistic and achievable.

average rating is 5 out of 5, based on 1 votes, rating(s)
Boys playing and one shooting a goal in water filled rice paddy field

Learning Goals

  • Develop a deeper understanding of common mistakes in goal setting.

  • Learn an adapted SMART process to collaboratively create achievable goals.


Set Up: Prepare for the Activity

Organize participants into small groups (5-6 ppl).

Share the Collaborative Goal Setting Worksheet with participants.

Begin by introducing the learning goals of this activity.

Step One: Introduce the SMART Goal Description (10 min)

As a full group, introduce the worksheet and review the description of SMART Goals:

  • S = Specific (things that are easy to relate to)

  • M = Measurable (things that we measure quantitatively or qualitatively)

  • A = Achievable (things that are realistic, agreed to, and attainable)

  • R = Relevant (things that make a difference)

  • T = Time Bound (things that can be achieved within the time available)

Ask participants to review Challenge One of the worksheet and complete this first step silently. After about five minutes, invite a couple of participants to share their revised statements. Review as a full group.

Step Two: Practice Setting SMART Goals (10 min)

In small groups, invite participants to review Challenge Two: Organization Goal Setting in the worksheet. Give them a few moments to read the scenario and then ask them to complete the challenge as a group. You can also read the scenario aloud to the full group.

Organization Goal Setting

You are the leadership team of a volunteer organization. The mission of the organization is to increase food security in your community. Currently, there are 223 members in your organization, but only 127 members (56%) are actively involved. You want to expand your services but need more members and, particularly, active members to do so.

Step Three: Practice Identifying New Challenges (15 min)

Invite groups to move on to Challenge Three in the worksheet. If necessary, review the tasks together as a full group:

  • Each group must identify another challenge for the leadership team in the scenario.

  • Each group will create a new goal based on the needs that they identified in the scenario.

After each group has had a chance to create a new goal based on a challenge that they identified, briefly share back with the full group.

Step Four: Debrief as a Full Group (15 min)


  • How was the experience different when creating a goal by yourself (like in Challenge One) versus crafting goals together (Challenges Two and Three)?

  • Why might you want to craft goals together as a group or team?

  • What are the challenges of doing this together? Trade-offs?





Introduction to Collaborative Discussion

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average rating is 4 out of 5

Sovi Herring

May 30, 2024 at 6:42:10 PM

This activity is great when a group is comfortable sharing thoughts--but it is modified to be more introspective at first. There are two versions of this, one to recognize "normalized" feelings, the other is labeled "extreme" as the group was practicing navigating high emotion. This first one covers parents, cats, dogs: This one is to recognize more difficult to talk about feelings of fear, disgust, etc.:

average rating is 5 out of 5

Sovi Herring

May 30, 2024 at 6:28:11 PM

This activity was modified for a Business & Professional Communication class. It is best when the groups have gone through the guidelines activity to help facilitate how to communicate and even the 3.4 ambiguity. This is a difficult activity if the class is uncomfortable speaking (and in my case they were very adverse to discussing these in any group). Here is how I set it up (along with a print out of the words). It is modified to fit the business world, but worked well as a concept.

average rating is 5 out of 5

May 28, 2024 at 1:33:05 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

May 28, 2024 at 1:31:01 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

February 14, 2024 at 1:03:34 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

February 14, 2024 at 1:02:20 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

February 11, 2024 at 3:55:15 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

January 4, 2024 at 7:22:22 PM

average rating is 5 out of 5

December 12, 2023 at 11:56:40 PM

average rating is 5 out of 5

Lori Britt

October 3, 2023 at 5:00:05 PM

Have done this in the past, but today a group really blew me away. I did this as a Fishbowl with 7 students taking roles. Prior to the converstaion they could seek input from a few other students about what which decision they think the person in their role would support and why. I also asked them to come up with some things that were concerns for them. This 10 minute of prep time helped my role play participants really embody and feel confident in their roles. Great discussion about what deliberation looks like in practice and about how power can impact conversations and how a facilitator can try and minimize these power imbalances. I used the scenario above and assigned these roles (I was not sure my students woul be able to consider roles that would offer different perspectives): • Facilitator (non-voting) • Mayor • High school teacher • 17-year-old high school student • Transportation planner for the region • Local business owner • Economic development office for the region (your community and the surrounding communities served by the train) • 50-year-old who lost his job last year and who has been on unemployment

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