Why an aim statement is necessary
An aim statement provides a line of sight to a desired outcome; a clear aid to communicate to stakeholders what you are trying to achieve. It keeps improvement activity useful and purposeful by concentrating on the original purpose: identifying the key focus, keeping the scale manageable and providing a framework to help teams consider all important aspects of the improvement effort.
What makes a good aim statement
An aim statement should be concise. Think of it as a brief description which should clearly communicate what you intend to accomplish:
Your aim statement should be ambitious and stretching but realistic enough to be achievable; your aspirations must be balanced by ideas and theories of how you will reach the outcome.
How to plan your aim statement
A useful framework for planning an aim statement is STAN (Specific, Timebound, Aligned, Numeric). Using STAN helps teams to ensure they are considering all the crucial elements.
This relates to narrowing the focus and scale of your improvement effort and includes two important considerations: boundaries and outcome.
Setting a clear timeframe for achieving the goal relates to ‘by when?’ and provides a clear statement of intent to review progress. It also creates a purposeful focus for those involved in the improvement effort and helps with project planning.
Consider what is the strategic vision and how does your aim link in to strategic objectives on a local, regional or national level. This is essential to consider, enabling you to justify the required resources for your particular improvement idea and promote support from influential senior managers or leaders; essential for making any change sustainable. It is not necessary to include this in your aim statement but it’s an important part of your project charter (link to tool).
This allows us to determine when we have achieved the aim by attaching a quantifiable goal. This helps to focus the improvement work and provides a starting point for identifying change ideas and developing measurement plans by telling us ‘how good?’.