There are three things that I believe are the foundation of a good cook on the pit. The 3 T's of smoking - Time, Temperature and Tenderness
Time is your best friend when it comes to smoking on the pit. You don't ever want to cook to a specific time standard because every cook is different and multiple factors play a key role in the overall cooking process. However, time is what creates the best flavors and the best cooks. Time is part of the art of smoking BBQ - It requires time and attention, but most importantly, patience.
Temperature is vital in many ways whether you're cooking in an electric smoker, with wood, or on a charcoal pit. Temperature is the answer to the most important question, "When is it done?" You always want to cook to temperature because this will tell you when your meat has reached its optimal point of flavor and desired tenderness. Cooking temperature, internal temperature, direct or indirect heat temperature and ambient temperatures are all factors to be considered for each cook. These are going to tell you what you need to do next and temperatures don't steer you wrong. Cooking to temperature and not to time will ensure that whatever you're cooking will be desirable when served to your family, friends and guests.
There's nothing better than finishing a cook and tasting that first bite of the most tender meat you've cooked to date. Those you cooked for will notice this as well! Desired tenderness is the end result of a combination of the above two key elements of a cook, time and temperature. The more dialed in your temps are and the more patience you have (time) the more tender the end result. No one likes to bite into a chewy, rubbery steak or a spongy hunk of brisket. Tenderness is about winning the hearts and stomachs of those we are serving to.