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Changing Your Organization for the Better: Part 3: The Goal Achievement Model

The Goal Achievement Model is a method to take the vision (a rather abstract concept) and convert it into goals, initiatives, and activities that people can do. Further, by developing it, the organization can establish a clear line between what people in the organization are actually doing and the vision that they are striving to accomplish.

Goal achievement is a method that links organization, department, team, and individual goals, initiatives and activities to the overall vision in a way that all can easily see how their efforts contribute to the end result. The model also provides a global view - a way to see how efforts by one group can affect, or be affected by efforts of others.

Goal achievement provides a clear understanding of the vision; for without the vision, goals cannot be properly set. Goal achievement requires focus as well as coordination among departments and groups. By the very nature of this coordination, goal achievement provides feedback to the participants.

The Goal Achievement Model (Figure 1 at the end of this article) illustrates the method. Before looking specifically at how the model works, let's first clearly define its key components: the mission, goals, initiatives, activities, and measures.

The mission is a single broad statement that describes the overall vision for the company, plant, or department. The mission states the vision in a way that employees can readily understand and is relevant to them. It is aimed at a high-level purpose. For example, the mission might be "to operate the facility in a reliable manner so that the requirements of the customers are always satisfied."

Goals are broad-based statements that support the mission in long-term, but specific ways. Typically, there will be several goals in support of the mission. Each one addresses a different aspect of the mission. Continuing with the mission described above, the goals could include:

1. Develop a comprehensive reliability program.
2. Improve the level of workforce skills.
3. Train the workforce to make decisions focused on reliability of the equipment and the processes.

These goals actually help to sharpen the mission, focusing on the word reliable.

Initiatives are statements describing long-term efforts that will be made to accomplish a specific goal. Typically each goal will have several initiatives associated. Many different efforts are usually needed to accomplish a stated goal. Initiatives are generated by the groups who do the actual work. Including them in a visual model allows the various groups to see what others are doing. The model also provides a mechanism to avoid duplicated work or efforts that are counter-productive. For the goal of developing a comprehensive reliability program, specific initiatives could include:

1. Establishing a program for predictive maintenance.
2. Establishing a program for preventive maintenance.
3. Developing a tracking tool so that work can be scheduled.

Notice the increasingly specific nature of these statements as we go from mission to goals to initiatives.

Activities are the short-term, specific tactics that explain exactly and in detail what the group or individuals will do to accomplish each initiative. At this level, specific work steps and tasks are described. The activities are usually developed by the group responsible for carrying them out. Looking at the initiative of establishing a program for preventive maintenance, activities could include:

1. Determining which types of equipment should receive preventive maintenance.
2. Identifying the equipment and gathering data to load into the database.
3. Determining how to staff this activity.
4. Establishing how often each piece of equipment should receive preventive maintenance.
5. Developing a schedule for the work.
6. Developing a plan to monitor the completion of all of the tasks and to enforce the maintenance schedule.

As you can see, activities are short-term specific steps that you take to complete the initiative. Responsibility must be assigned to an individual or group for completion of the task. Without assigned responsibility, the effort gets lost in the everyday work effort.

Measurement is the last, but perhaps the most vital component of the process. It tracks progress each initiative and activity. Measures show if the work is on track. They hold everyone accountable. We will address measurement further in Part 5.

The Goal Achievement Model allows for a mission and high level goals to be clearly stated and then converted from an abstract concept into something that can be clearly understood. This conversion is achieved through the continual development of the mission (or vision) into successive levels of detail through the model. The mission of "operating the facility in a reliable manner" is abstract; it has various meanings for different groups and people within the company. If we did not proceed further into the model, leaving people to create goals on this statement alone, the result would probably not be what was wanted. However, as you look at the subsequent levels and examples, you can see that the approach becomes very specific. The abstract nature disappears.

At each successive level, the detail becomes more and more specific. By the time you reach the Activity level, the work to be done is easily translated into actual work tasks. The model enables you to identify specific tasks that, when completed, support the mission. At the lower levels of the model this is clearly achieved

Because the work done at the Activity level is recognizable in its contribution to the overall mission, workers can see the value of their efforts. For example, the activity of gathering the data supports the initiative of developing the preventive maintenance program. In turn, this initiative supports the goal of creating the comprehensive reliability program that ultimately supports the overall mission. This connection is clear not only to the executive level but also to all those who are involved on the front line. Thus, the model can help drive the success of the process.

Because groups within the facility can see what others are doing, they can eliminate conflicting activities or even those activities that negatively impact each other. The majority of companies today do not have an overabundance of resources. Therefore, you want to be sure that you and your group are working on the right things. When everyone's efforts are shown, the model allows each group to focus on the work that adds value for the company.

The measures established to track the activities provide evidence that progress is actually being made. How many times have you prepared goals, only to have them wind up in a desk drawer for future retrieval when you are asked, "How are you doing with your goals?" You find yourself scrambling to see what you have done, trying to make your accomplishments fit what you said you were going to do. Proper measures avoid this problem. If you report your measures on a regular basis, the chances that you will be scrambling at the end of the year are minimal.

Figure 1 - The Goal Achievement Model follows

This concludes part 3 of 5 of "Changing Your Organization for the Better". Part 4 will address concept of what I refer to as the Roadmap of Change.

Portions of this article were extracted from "Successfully Managing Change in Organizations: A Users Guide" by Stephen J. Thomas with permission from the publisher, Industrial Press, Inc.

For more information about the book use the hyperlink provided to go to the Industrial Press web site - or visit the author's web site -

Figure 1

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