Setting Goals and Objectives
In many organizational settings goals and objectives are cascaded down from above. This is not the situation we will be discussing here. Rather we will focus on the situation where a management team wants to jointly establish goals and objectives, and a first step in developing a strategic plan for achieving those goals. How does a facilitator help with this process?
Using a Delphi Approach
One of the most useful techniques that we know of for establishing goals and objectives is based on the Delphi Technique. To use this technique we first need to establish which metrics do we want to establish goals and objectives for. For this example lets assume that we are interested in setting goals for top line revenue and EBITDA as a percentage of sales, and that we are at a corporate retreat with the senior management team.
In the first round of the goal setting exercise everyone is asked to record on a piece of paper the revenue goals, and EBITDA percentages. that they feel the organization should be striving for over the next three years. They are also asked to record the key factors that would contribute to their being optimistic in their estimates, and the key factors that would lead them to greater conservatism. This is done without any discussion. The facilitaor collects these results and enters them into a laptop computer hooked up to a data projector so that everyone can see the results. We begin by focusing on areas where there is a significant range of targets. People are asked to comment on; “Why someone might be at the high end of this range?” and “Why might someone be at the low end of this range?” The goal of this discussion is to understand where people are coming from. The next thing we do is discuss the factors that are contributing to people’s enthusiasm and conservatism. What we want to do is get a group opinion on how big these factors will really be.
After discussing the first round results and the factors leading to either optimisim or conservatism the group’s thinking will have evolved significantly. The facilitator once again asks each participant to record the revenue and EBITDA goals that they feel the organization should be stiviing for. These are collected and displayed. Typically the range is much tighter than the first round, if it isn’t then we will lead the group into further discussions to understand why, and to hopefully revise the targets. At this point we usually look for a range of estimates that is acceptable to all. We also tell the group that we will be developing action plans later in the retreat to achieve these goals and that we are not looking for final commitment until these plans are set.
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