Objectives and Goals
Rex C. Mitchell, Ph.D.

Organizations exist to accomplish purposes and objectives. This is fundamental to management and leadership.

A starting point is defining (clarifying, understanding) the organization's basic purpose or mission

There needs to be a smooth set of links from purpose to action that can achieve objectives:

It is important to develop good goals, both in terms of content and:

In an organization, there needs to be an integrated hierarchy of objectives:

In most situations, especially in conflicts, there are several types of goals, often with several operating at the same time and making the situation more complex:

Objectives may shift during a project or process, so we need to be aware of prospective, transactive, and retrospective objectives

Managers need several types of objectives:
(Some of best objectives apply to two or more of these types)

Some issues in setting and achieving objectives:

Some things we think we know about effective ways of developing & using objectives
  1. Need multiple objectives
  2. They should cover all (and only) the critical few key results areas (remember Pareto's Law)
  3. Every objective you accept means you have rejected some other objectives (be sure to pick the most important ones)
  4. They should include several types of objectives (routine, quality improvement, innovative, personal development) ...but don't stress the routine
  5. Any legitimate client demand should become somebody's objective
  6. Include both long- and short-range objectives
  7. Usually will have both quantifiable and qualitative objectives
  8. Objectives need an indicator (valid measure of results to be achieved)
  9. Objectives should be stated in observable terms with a target date
  10. It helps to state objectives as positive results to be achieved rather than a problem to be avoided
  11. Objectives need to be coordinated up, down, and across - to be integrated with and help achieve the objectives of the overall organization
  12. Objectives should lead to and be linked with plans, budgets, and management expectations
  13. Objectives MUST be closely linked with reward systems
  14. Objectives should be challenging but attainable - the performer must perceive that he/she can be a winner
  15. There should be created a way to obtain the necessary resources
  16. If objectives are conditional, state the conditions
  17. Although unknown side-effects can not be predicted, they should not stop setting of objectives
  18. There also should be a process to review and revise objectives
  19. It helps to involve those performing in setting objectives
  20. Experience helps to produce better objectives

We have to deal with unintended side-effects in measuring and rewarding performance:

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Last modified May 17, 2010 Copyright 1987-2010 Rex Mitchell