How do you create effective objectives? Effective objectives are not straightjackets. Instead, effective objectives are more like flight plans. They set directions and guide the resources and energies. In The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Management, Peter F. Drucker writes about creating and setting effective objectives.
Objectives Must Be Transformed into Work
Drucker writes that objectives don't help unless they're turned into actions:
If objectives are only good intentions, they are worthless. They must be transformed into work. And work is always specific, always has – or should have – clear, unambiguous, measurable results, a deadline, and a specific assignment of accountability.
Don't Treat Objectives Like Straightjackets
Drucker writes that objectives must be flexible:
But objectives that become a straightjacket do harm. Objectives are always based on expectations. And expectations are, at best, informed guesses. Objectives express an appraisal of factors that are largely outside of the business and not under its control. The world does not stand still.
Objectives are Like Flight Plans
Drucker writes that the most effective objectives are like flight plans:
The proper way to use objectives is the way an airline uses schedules and flight plans. The schedule provides for the 9:00 A.M. flight from Los Angeles to get to Boston by 5:00 P.M. But if there is a blizzard in Boston that day, the plane will land in Pittsburgh instead and wait out the storm. The flight plan provides for flying at thirty thousand feet and for flying over Denver and Chicago. But if the pilot encounters turbulence or strong headwinds, he will ask flight control for permission to go up another five thousand feet and to produce a new schedule and flight plan. Unless 97 percent or so of its flights proceed on the original schedule and flight plan – or within a very limited range of deviation from either – a well-run airline gets another operations manager who knows his job.
Objectives are Directions Not Fate
Drucker writes that the objectives do not determine the future:
Objectives are not fate; they are directions. They are not commands; they are commitments. They do not determine the future; they are means to mobilize the resources and energies of the business for the making of the future.
Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:
- Turn objectives into specific work.
- Effective objectives are like flight plans.
- Don't treat objectives like straightjackets.
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