I remember pushing my company commander for more guidance. I felt he hadn’t given me enough information that I knew what he expected from my platoon. When I asked what route he wanted us to take to our assigned position, he said, “I don’t care how you get there, just be there.”
These days I think of that incident whenever I get hung up on intermediate objectives. I’m a backwards planner: I plan the end state first, and then work from there to determine what will be needed. In the end, I have intermediate objectives, goals that, if accomplished in sequence, will bring my team to the result I want.
The thing is, though, we’re not drawing dot-to-dot diagrams. It doesn’t matter if our route to success goes through my objectives or not. The only point of the objectives is the end goal; they’re a useful guide to get us moving in the right direction.
So don’t worry too much if your team misses a progress report, or Googles a formula instead of doing research, or figures out they can skip a step or do a test later. Are they moving toward the goal? Then it’s all good.
My advice: present intermediate objectives or goals as one way to do it. Spend most of your time describing what you want in the end. If they find a different way there, what does it matter?