Saturday, November 3, 2012

3 Categories of Goals

Every organization has a lot of goals. Goals touch different aspects of organization management and may appear in various shapes and forms. In order for the introduction of goal-oriented management to be successful, these goals must be defined explicitly and they have to be as complete as possible. For the best results, the maximum number of activities performed by workers throughout their day should all be linked to these concrete explicit goals.

However, very few managers have a solid understanding of what kinds of goals exist in their organization and where to find them. Others may look for goals of only one or two kinds, and then tend to ignore the rest. As a result, their goal sets become incomplete and cover only part of the organizational activities. At the same time, the other unaddressed activities can carry on by themselves and be performed chaotically. That “hidden part of the iceberg” quite often sinks any noble attempt to introduce goal-orientation into organizational management. Activities based on goals are defined with an assumption of certain resources and time frames, but uncontrolled activities unexpectedly consume those resources and time and lead toward the failure of the set activities.

In order to achieve better coverage, we recommend that organizations know and consider the three following categories of goals:

  • Functional goals - Repeating goals that are a part of regular operations. Such goals have well-defined beginnings and endings, established execution patterns, and can be integrated into standard business processes.

Examples: The implementation of a software component, a product release, or the processing of a client’s order.

  • Non-functional goals - Goals that set overall operational principles, and may be applicable to different types of activities. These goals do not usually have an explicitly specified end. As they apply to many different activities, they define how work will be performed, without saying what will be performed. Quite often, goals from this category are used as organizational Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Examples: Resource economy, safety requirements, client satisfaction requirements, and product quality requirements.

  • Problem-oriented goals - One-time goals set to address unique problems or to improve existing processes. These goals have clear success criteria, but because they are unique to their problem or issue, they usually lack execution patterns. Problem-oriented goals are the most difficult to automate. Defining and reaching them often require creative human abilities.

Examples: Changing an organizational structure, entering a new market, the optimization of business processes, or the introduction of a new business model.

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