Transparency and open debate : two ways to avoid disaster
Could management guru Peter Drucker ever have imagined that in 95 percent of organizations, employees would end up focusing on individual or collective goals? This practice is now so entrenched that nobody bothers asking the question: does it really work?
Conventional wisdom states that your goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound). And there’s the rub: while it’s possible that everyone will hit their targets, the chances that the organization’s objective will disappear over the horizon are far from zero. Why? Because objectives can guide the execution of a strategy only if they are aligned with the strategic priorities, factor in interdependencies across departments, and enable course corrections as circumstances change. And objectives shouldn’t just focus on incentives or be set on a one-on-one basis. A team from MIT has carefully examined an alternative approach that has been introduced by Intel, Google, and Anheuser-Busch InBev. The researchers analyzed the strategic excellence and execution of each company based on four criteria known as FAST: goals that incorporated frequent discussions and were ambitious in scope, measured by specific metrics, and transparent for the entire organization. For instance, they analyzed the data of over 600,000 objectives, which showed that the advantages of transparency far outweighed the disadvantages for all the relevant teams and individuals in any organization.
In short, although successful individuals set ambitious and specific goals, successful teams make their goals transparent and discuss them frequently. To find out how FAST you are, take the interactive test that the MIT researchers have developed.
To go further : “With goals, FAST beats SMART” by Donald Sull and Charles Sull, MITSloan Management Review (5 June 2018)
Take the Quiz : “How FAST are your goals?”