Mistakes in decisions about goals are the greatest single cause of human incompetence.
Individual human potential is limitless, and as organizations are made up of human beings, the potential for any organization to achieve its goals is also limitless. An enormous opportunity to improve productivity and quality of working life, almost without exception, exists in striving for greater degrees of clarity and focus on what is important, where an organization wants to be, and how to get there.
Effective organizations and people rarely achieve superior results by chance. Success requires more than mere daydreaming, more than vague desire. It even requires more than hard work. Target setting is the key ingredient to success.
Without target setting, huge amounts of energy can be lost, unharnessed, unused. Conversely, by working consistently toward the attainment of certain clearly defined, specific targets, energy can be tightly focused and the results astounding.
Targets are set to steer the organization/team/individual during the short-term. They are the short-term benchmarks that show progress against longer-term goals. Targets are set to define, in precise terms, particular levels for the delivery of outputs. Together with feedback information, targets monitor and control variance so as to improve the quality, quantity, and timeliness of outputs to the identified customers. Target-setting often fails to achieve the desired results because the targets are not properly set.
The most common pitfalls include:
- Targets define activities or tasks instead of outputs;
- Targets are too wordy;
- Too many or too few targets are set;
- No one is truly accountable for the target(s);
- Targets don’t express the performance measurement criteria clearly;
- Targets are not placed in the context of an overall improvement system, so they are seen as an additional task which must be performed and then forgotten about;
- Targets are either too easy or too difficult;
- Targets have an inappropriate time period.
The review of targets should be part of a systematic process. Plans should be reviewed and updated annually, coinciding with the financial year. Targets should be reviewed quarterly, and action plans monthly, weekly and even daily. Systematic review forms the basis for a continuous improvement system in line with the long-term goals of the organization.
If you are not making the progress you would like to make and are capable of making, it is simply because your goals are not clearly defined.
Paul J Myer
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