Hitting the Target but Missing the Point
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Most managers see the setting of numerical targets as the only way of committing their organizations to performance. The practice, however, can be highly problematic — for various reasons and especially if individual bonuses are attached to the targets set. Yet, there are other ways to achieve the best possible performance — and there are examples that prove they work.
The world of management is full of myths and rituals. Many seem to have been with us forever and are explained and justified with “we have always done it like this” or “everybody else is doing it”. One of these rituals, target setting, seems to have always been there. However, that is not actually true. If we go back 20 or 30 years, the situation was quite different. There were far fewer targets around. Yes, there were detailed budgets, which often represented targets, and there still are in many organizations. These were mainly financial numbers, however. The birth of the Balanced Scorecard in the 1990s led to a massive...