Set Your Objective!™ | Prioritisation Training Activity

Establish SMART objectives - and put them to the test. Reveals common failings - every time. Great fun!

Learning Objectives

  • Allows for group decision-making on setting objectives
  • Highlights the need to have realistic, achievable objectives
  • Illustrates the importance of time frames - how long will this take?
  • Allows groups to prioritise tasks according to urgency and importance
  • Tests teams’ ability to work together under pressure

Five-Year Repeat Use Licence

This Northgate training activity comes with a five-year licence for repeat use with up to 24 participants per training session within the licence-holding organisation. Please ask for a discount on multiple licences to use with larger groups. Also includes access to the Northgate Trainerhub (see below for details).

  • Participants

    3-24 (up to four teams of 3-6 per team)

  • Timing

    1.25 hours + debrief

  • Uses a computer?

    Not required

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The Activity

This two-part activity is about time management, setting objectives and teamwork. Participants represent management teams and 'today’ they have a limited amount of time to complete a number of tasks. In Part 1 of the activity they set their objectives, by deciding which tasks to take on, and in Part 2 they actually do their chosen tasks. Will they achieve their chosen objectives?

The tasks, eight in all, vary in degree of urgency and difficulty - and the type of skills required . Each carries a point score to reflect this (although teams are not asked to amass points. It's there as a bit of a distraction - a 'red-herring'). Set Your Objective is about deciding which tasks are key and getting them done efficiently and successfully, on time - and not being distracted away from this objective. Teams need to realise that points don't help, although they don't always!

So which are the key tasks and which of those can be realistically achieved in the allotted time. Teams have 35-40 minutes to study the tasks (issued on Task-cards), decide which to tackle and submit their plan on a Contract Sheet. The cards give only outline details, the full details are issued on Data-cards in Part 2, the Action Phase. So teams cannot actually start any tasks until Part 2.

The brief also details two other tasks. A Main Task which teams must complete - it's in their brief and involves making a tower from the artstraws. The second is an Unexpected Task which simulates the unexpected events that inevitably get in the way of achieving objectives. Did teams leave enough leeway in their planning?

The Action Phase lasts 25 minutes. Trying to do ALL the tasks will result in failure, but just how many tasks, and which ones, should teams attempt? They need to set SMART objectives!

Trainer's Role

  • Divide participants into teams.
  • Issue Briefing Folders and explain the activity. Allow 40 minutes Planning Time.
  • At the end of the 40 minutes, collect Contract Sheets and issue specific task details for those tasks teams have chosen to complete.
  • Allow groups to begin on the Action Phase. After 15 minutes, issue the Unexpected Task. After 25 minutes, check each team’s Main Task.
  • Award scores and lead a Debrief on team experiences and key lessons about planning, time management and setting objectives.
  • Link to the workplace and how team members can improve their own performance at work.

Pack Contents

  • Trainer’s Notes
  • Team Folder containing a Brief and eight Taskcards
  • Set of eight Datacards
  • Score Sheet
  • Contract Sheet
  • Unexpected Task
  • Handout: Team Review
  • Artstraws
  • Resources: A4 card, rulers, scissors, sticky-tape, coloured pens

This activity is for face-to-face classroom use. It is supplied as a hard copy pack and the digital files are supplied via the Northgate Trainerhub.

Northgate Trainerhub

Benefits of the online Northgate Trainerhub include:

  • Easy-to-access resource library which stores all the digital files for the activity in one place
  • Immediate access to upgrades made to the activity over the five-year licence term
  • Access to an online Trainer Forum where you can post questions, share experiences & network with other Trainers
  • Access to free activities and icebreakers
  • Unlimited Trainer logins for all Trainers based at the licence-holding site

All groups love 'Set your Objective!'.

Anon, Employee Development Officer, Scottish Council

I use 'Set your Objective!' as a time management exercise with all staff, Sales, Production, Credit Control, Marketing, IT etc. I run the first part before lunch and the second part after lunch. It brings out a lot of aspects of people’s personalities. It shows that people tend to take on too much and when under pressure they focus on things that they are comfortable with.

Kim Summers, United Advertising Publications

'Set Your Objective!' is a fun, group activity, which draws out common failings around organising your day. Used to support training on 'Organising Your Day', the best learning points are: not to rush into action; to understand your brief fully; and not make assumptions.

Ben Steedon, Family Investments

Love 'Set Your Objective!'. Works 100% every time. Excellent!

Martin Clarke, MD, Inspire Change

'Set Your Objective!' was very well received and made the point effectively - namely, don't select the jobs you like doing - rather, select the jobs that need to be done! I am very pleased with it!

S Kelly, Lowton Training Services

We use 'Set Your Objective!' on our ILM 2 programme so that delegates can learn how to plan and monitor work. It mirrors real life with priority tasks that have to be completed, but tasks that look easier and more fun often take up more time than planned. Will they allocate the right tasks to the right people, will they monitor progress against the plan, what about Plan B if the unexpected happens. They learn, the hard way, but for you the trainer- everything you need is provided by Northgate!

Neil Porter, Training Specialist, Supervisory Development, BAPCO, Bahrain

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