When to set Non-Specific Objectives and how to avoid their Dangers.


Sometimes Managers should not spend time in determining “specific” Objectives


1 In general Managers should try to set specific objectives. However sometimes they should not do so because they will spend too much time obtaining the necessary information.

2 This situation will occur when:

     (a) a Subordinate knows more about the area under consideration than the Manager and/or

     (b) the Manager can more-usefully spend time on other work and the Subordinate can equally well (or nearly as well) spend time defining more specifically the possible sub objectives in relation to the non- specific end activity objective and/or

   (c) the Manager wishes to provide training for a particular Subordinate in the topic/objective under consideration.

3 However in such cases both Managers and Subordinates will get help if they realise the general1 direction of their aiming point. (e. g. make a profit, travel carefully.)

4 Once both parties know the general direction, the Manager asks the Subordinate to make the end (activity) objective (more) specific.

5 Two approaches exist. A Subordinate can make the end objective more specific by (a) setting specific sub objectives and/or (b) finding out in specific terms what the end objective aims to achieve (i.e.) the next- higher-level objective.

     6 Examples. A Manager may say “improve our delivery system”, and leave the details, (i.e. the setting of “specific sub- objectives) to a Subordinate. In this case the “details” or sub- objectives would define more clearly the end objective as an aiming point. Such sub objectives might include: (a) Buy two new delivery vans, (b) Conduct a two-day course on Better Customer Relations for our Drivers, (c) Insert all our Customers and their addresses into our computer system, (d) Obtain a listing of all Customers grouped by suburbs and country areas.

7 Someone could make more specific the objective: “Obtain a suitable person to run the factory” once someone discovers that “suitable” means (say): a man over 35, with production and supervisory experience, five years in the Widget Industry, and having a Diploma of Engineering (or better) academic qualification.

8 With the previous objective regarding a Factory Manager, the next-higher level objective might equal; change successfully the factory so that it operates with much greater reliance on the latest highly-technical machines. This higher-level objective will help to define the meaning of the words “suitable person”. Probably the person will need to have extensive knowledge of the new machines and have experience changing from old to new technical machines in a similar factory environment.

9 Thus setting, and giving, a non-specific objective to a Subordinate does not necessarily rate as a bad activity for Managers. However Managers should realise that this approach means the Subordinate has to set the specific objectives. Thus Managers should make a deliberate decision. They should not give out non-specific activity objectives because of laziness or lack of clearness in thinking about objectives.

10 Examples.Consider the changes occurring on some roads. Compare the objective: “Sharp bends, slow down” with the (implied) objective: “Maximum recommended speed on the curve - 50 km/h”.

11 Another interesting example occurs on Freeways when the sign says “Reduce Speed Now”. Perhaps it should read “Reduce speed to 60 km/h by the time you reach the next green sign”.

A Danger of Non-Specific Activity Objectives

12 Whenever Managers give a Subordinate a non-specific activity objective, they have not indicated to the Subordinate how much time the Subordinate should spend on trying to achieve the objective (Duration Time)

13 Most Managers have experienced the situation where they give a job to a Subordinate thinking it would take (say) 30 minutes and then later find out that the Subordinate has spent (say) four hours or three days on it. Often the Manager would not have rated the objective worth that amount of time.

14 One solution to this problem involves linking a specific time duration obiective with a non-specific activity objective e.g. “Investigate how to solve the problem and spend up to (say) two hours doing it”.

15 This approach limits the amount of time given to achieving, or trying to achieve, the objective and the Manager’s communication either states, or implies, that after spending two hours on the objective the Subordinate must stop and communicate with the Manager.

16 At this stage, Subordinates may suggest a more specific objective (e.g. the problem does not exist in Area “A” but appears linked with Situation “B” and I think I should spend another (say) hour on further investigation). Alternatively they may give sufficient additional information for their Manager to set a more-specific activityobjective. At the very least the Manager can decide whether to ask the Subordinate to continue with the objective for an additional specific time period.

17 This method could almost rate as a scientific law (as opposed to a principle), i.e. it provides an approach which will always help.

18 In summary, the law says: Overcome Non-Specific End Activity Objectives by adding Specific Time-Duration Objective. The first letter of each word makes up the memory aid: on-sea-o-bast-do.

Objectives – Part 1

Introduction

1 These notes aim to (a) Encourage Readers to give more attention to setting objectives and (b) Help them produce wiser and more specific-objectives.

2 The notes provide a detailed meaning for the word “Objective”. They discuss the necessity for objectives and where objectives fit into the activities of (a) Managing and (b) Operating. Then they introduce the idea of a helping relationship between objectives that leads to an explanation of the hierarchy of objectives. This concept introduces different types of helping relationships and the notes then discuss part objectives and hope objectives as well as independent and dependent relationships between any two objectives. After illustrating the use of the hierarchy of objectives, they explain how to distinguish a good (wise) objective from a bad (unwise) objective.
3 Part 2 of these notes looks at the various classes of objectives, competition between them, the impermanence of objectives at different organisational levels, and discusses some principles to use when setting objectives.

 

A Meaning for – Objective


4 The idea of an objective contains a number of elements. First,it implies a “something” which no one has achieved at a given time, but which someone believes someone should achieve. Provided someone tries to achieve this “something”, then an objective exists.

5 Example. Alan believes he, himself, should try to achieve a specific objective, such as - “Purchase a new machine”.

 

6 Second, an objective exists if someone believes someone should attempt to achieve an objective, even if this “someone” does not believe he/she should try to achieve it. Thus, one person might plan that someone else should have a particular objective.

7 Example. Alan believes Mary should “start an education course” and “write all objectives so they start with a verb”.

 

8 Third, the achievement of an objective does not need to occur for an objective to exist. If an aiming point exists in a person’s mind (for that person or someone else) then an objective exists.

 

9 Fourth, an objective must refer to something in the future. Attempts to achieve an objective and its possible achievement can only occur in the future. However, the result may already exist and then the objective involves maintaining a situation.
10 Example. Keep the boiler’s temperature at between 200-210 degrees until the end of the shift.

11 These notes call the ‘something” a result and define it as under -
Result – the state of something at one point of time or for a period of time.

12 The above points, collected together help to define an Objective:
Objective – a result in the future that someone believes someone should try to achieve.

13 The following provides a briefer, but not complete, definition of an objective – A future result that someone tries to achieve. This briefer definition leaves out situations where someone selects an objective that the “Selector” believes someone else should try to achieve.

 

The Necessity for Objectives

 

14 Most people will find it difficult to imagine any activity taking place without an objective. Sometimes people will class the objective as unclear or different from one time to another and different people will have different ideas about it. However, any activity must try to achieve some result in the future even if only “continue the activity” or “finish the activity”.

 

Where do Objectives fit into the activity of Managing?

 

15 If people accept a definition of Managing as: the process of determining an objective and trying to achieve it through the effort of other people, then objectives must rate as important in managing. All Managers at every level of an organisation must concern themselves with objectives – the ones they set themselves and the ones set for them.

 

The need to think consciously about Objectives

 

16 Even though activity implies some objective, many people find themselves carrying out some activity without a very clear idea of the end objective. All too frequently Organisations realise their members have pulled in different directions (conflicting objectives) or they have aimed for wrong objectives. Other cases occur where people give the objectives or parts of the Organisation too much attention and/or forget the overall objective.

 

17 From time to time, all Managers will find it profitable to consider the objective of their Organisation or Section and check whether their current activities contribute to these objectives. Managers (indeed everyone) should use the following question more frequently: “What objective(s) should we aim to achieve?” More frequent use of this question would help to improve almost all Organisations. Moreover, Managers need to communicate the answer to anyone connected with any activities that aim to achieve the Organisation’s objectives.
Operators as well as Managers set Objectives

 
18 These notes define the word “objective” in a very broad way. However, some people believe that the word “objective” refers only to aims set by people who have high-level jobs in an Organisation. The definition used in these notes opposes this view. If objectives cover future results then everyone in an Organisation sets objectives. Whenever some people higher in an Organisation set objectives for people below, then these lower-level people have to determine ways and means of carrying out these objectives. These “ways and means” imply setting other objectives. Ideally, such objectives should aim to help achieve the objectives set by higher-level people.
19 People at the very bottom of an organisation set objectives.
20 Examples. Any Operator can set the objective of producing (say) 30 parts in a day and aim to reach this level within a week of starting the job. An Operator (Tom) feels particularly keen one day and decides to beat his previous record for the number produced. Mary speeds up her last job so she can get finished early. Harry makes his last job for the day take a little longer.

 

21 These examples show that people set some of their own objectives, some of which help to achieve the objectives of their respective Supervisors.

 

 

An important relationship between Objectives: one helps to achieve another

 

22 For any two objectives, a particular relationship exists i.e. one objective helpsto achieve the other objective.
23 Examples (a) “Unscrew the lid of the bottle” will help to achieve (b) “Take out some of bottle’s contents”.

24 If a circle represents an objective and a connecting arrow shows the above-mentioned relationship of “help to achieve” the diagram below shows the relationship visually: Note: the head on the arrow always points to the higher-level objective.

25 These notes call the higher-level objective an objective and the lower-level one, a sub-objective.

Objectives and Sub-Objectives – Interchangeability of these Terms
26 Once someone determines an end objective they can identify a whole series of other objectives, subsidiary to the overall (or end) objective. These notes call these other objectives “sub-objectives”. However, from another viewpoint, the overall objective deserves a label “sub-objective” since it will help to achieve some other still-higher-level objective. Similarly, the sub-objective becomes an objective from the viewpoint of objectives at a still lower level.
27 An objective’s classification as an objective or sub-objective depends on the viewpoint taken, i.e. the level from which someone “views” the objective.

HIERARCHY OF OBJECTIVES
28 In any activity, a number of sub-objectives exist which someone believes will help to achieve a higher-level objective. The diagram below shows the relationship visually.

29 In the above diagram, the Drawer (or Planner) believes that Objectives A, B, and C will assist the achievement of Objective “X”. The diagram shows that Objectives 1-4 inclusive will help to achieve Objective “A”, and so on. The diagram also shows different levels of objectives.

30 These notes use the phrase Hierarchy of Objectives to describe the above type of diagram. The phrase “Hierarchy of Objectives” describes a group of objectives arranged to identify, and link together, objectives which have a high probability of helping to achieve other objectives in the group.

31 The following shows a more specific example which should help to make the idea of relationships clearer. It also shows the grouping of various objectives.

 

A hierarchy of objectives shows a plan

32 The activity of trying to determine objectives[1] which will achieve a given objective involves people in deliberating thinking about what someone (sometimes including themselves) should do. This activity equals planning – a conscious thinking process aimed at determining objectives. Most people call the end result of planning – a plan. These notes define a plan as – a group of objectives that someone believes will all help to achieve an (end) objective.


33 A Hierarchy of Objectives describes a group of objectives which someone believes will (help to) achieve an end objective. Thus Hierarchies equal plans provided the Drawer of the Hierarchy believes the Hierarchy includes sufficient objectives to achieve the end objective – assuming someone achieves the objectives and in the right sequence.
Two Types of Relationships between Objectives

34 At least two types of “helping” relationships exist between objectives:

(a) One objective will helpto achieve another objective – classed as a fact, not opinion, and

(b) Someone believes one objective has a high probability of helping another. This relationship rates as an opinion – not everyone need agree on the helping relationship or its strength.
35 These notes call a sub-objective which has the first relationship (Will help) with the next-higher level objective a Part Objective. They call a sub-objective with the second relationship – a Hope Objective –
36 Example. “Fill the black kettle with one litre of boiling water” (Objective A) must help the achievement of “Obtain a litre of boiling water in the black kettle (Objective B). Objective A provides an example of a “Part-Objective” - in relation to Objective B.


37 Where sufficient “Part Objectives” exist, their achievement (in a correct sequence) will equal the achievement of the next-higher-level objective.

38 Example. The achievement of Objectives “A” plus Objective “C” (Place the kettle on the lighted gas and leave for ten minutes) equals the achievement of “Obtain a boiling litre of water”.

 

39 The introduction of these two technical terms: “hope-objective” and “part-objective” helps to identify different planning problems.
40 In the actual process of planning two major problems exist:
(a) Has the Planner discovered all part-objectives?
(b) Where the Planner cannot establish all the part-objectives then the Planner needs to consider whether the “sub-objectives” really help achieve the next higher-level objective.
2 Hierarchies do NOT show a sequence for achieving the objectives which the Hierarchy shows on the same level. However, do plans have to show sequence of objectives?

41 An Example to illustrate the latter problem. The objective: “Replace the Foreman” may help the objective: “Increase the productivity of the factory”. If the lowness of productivity has nothing to do with the existing Foreman then this “sub-objective” will not really deserve the term “part-objective’.

 

 

Another type of Relationship between Objectives: Dependent and Independent

 

42 Another relationship exists between objectives – attempts to achieve one objective cannot start until someone completes another objective. (Dependent Relationship). In other cases attempts to achieve both objectives can occur together – provided enough resources (e.g. people and machines) exist. (Independent Relationship).
43 Example. Consider the objective: Send a letter to a Customer. The following lower-level “sub-objectives” exist for it: Dictate letter, Transport dictating machine to Typist’s office, Type letter from dictation tape, Take letter to Dictator’s office, Sign, Put into envelope, Stamp, and Post.

 

44 In this example, some people can achieve some “sub-objectives” without waiting for other people. A Secretary or Clerk could stamp the envelope before a Secretary takes the letter to the dictator’s office for signature. In this case the two objectives rate as independent, i.e. an organisation can get both done at the same time.

 

45 The above ideas lead to a distinction between objectives which will help people to plan better. This distinction involves classifying some as Dependent i.e. one (some) objective(s) cannot commence until someone achieves another (some) objective(s).

46 However sometimes an Organisation cannot attempt to achieve two objectives at the same time- but only because the Organisation does not have sufficient resources. Readers should note that this situation does make the two objectives dependent.

47 The real test of dependency rests on imagining unlimited resources but still finding that the total resource effort cannot start to achieve one objective until the overall group (or one of its parts) achieves one objective.
48 Example. The objectives of (a) Type letter cannot commence until the finish of (b) Dictate letter. (However a machine which translates the voice of the dictator into a typed letter will alter the situation.)

 

49 Another important point relates to the dependent/independent relationship; once someone introduces the speed of achieving each sub objective a reduction in independence occurs.


50 Example. In the above example of getting dressed, given the fact that the clothes lie at various points and the person starts getting dressed from a particular point the minimum distance to walk becomes important. In this case a strict order of doing things becomes important if the objective of getting dressed within the shortest possible time becomes the real objective.


51 When the end objective includes “in the shortest time possible” the hierarchy of objectives becomes one long chain – someone decides a definite sequence for trying to achieve each objective – because each objective now includes a time factor.
The Usefulness of the Hierarchy of Objectives


52 Everyone faces the following problems regularly: decide the job to do next. Even in high-level objectives, a right order for tackling the objectives exists (even if difficult to discover). The hierarchy of objectives helps reduce some of the conflict problems with respect to deciding the sequence of tackling objectives. The next section illustrates the point.

53 The hierarchy of objectives also allows a more-detailed and systematic examination of the process of planning. Further, it helps to identify various types of planning more clearly because Investigators have available to them different ideas and concepts. A major objective in helping Managers to manage better involves identifying good objectives as opposed to bad objectives. The hierarchy of objectives helps achieve this objective (see later).
Deciding Which Job to do next – an Example


54 The following paragraphs give an example of how looking for relationships between objectives can help to decide priority between objectives.
55 Harry, a Manager, has to decide whether he should:

(a)   write out a draft advertisement, or

(b)  read a long memo from his Boss, or

(c)   attend to a recommendation from a Subordinate, or

(d)  deal with a customer complaint.

 

56 All these objectives compete against each other for attention. However if the heading of the memo from the Boss reads “Second thoughts on the necessity to appoint a new person” then Harry should probably read the memo first. It may say – Do not proceed with the advertisement”. The Subordinate’s recommendation may turn out to cover the Customer’s complaint so it may represent early stages in dealing with the complaint.

57 Originally the four objectives appear to offer four possible jobs on which to start work. A Manager would have to chose one of the most important with only a low certainly about the “right” order of importance.

58 Whenever Managers can establish relationships between objectives (as in the above example) apparent competition between objectives may cease since the relationships show clearly that one objective should have preference over another.

59 The question: “What next higher-level objective does this objective aim to assist?” will usually help to check relationships.

60 Difficulties occur for all Managers because they must deal with many “hope objectives”. The objectives may help to contribute to some higher-level objective. However different people will find difficulty in establishing such relationships and disagree about the strength of the relationships they find. Such efforts often prove helpful because the strength of the relationships often helps decide priorities.

 

The need to distinguish a “Good” Objective from a “Bad” Objective


61 Everyone will benefit from an ability to select good (wise) objectives. However, people tend not to look for help in selecting good objectives because most people select objectives and aim to achieve them in the belief that they have selected good objectives. No-one deliberately aims to achieve what they class as a bad objective.
62 Some people classify attempts to check on the goodness of objectives as wasteful. However a detailed consideration of the problems involved in setting objectives should help to convince Readers that they should give more care and attention to considering whether they have set a good or bad objective.
63 The following section discusses this topic. The concept of the hierarchy of objectives underlines much of the following analysis.
How to distinguish a “good’ Objective from a “bad” Objective


64 In attempting to define good objectives, these notes first try to define bad objectives.

“Unclear”

65 An objective refers to a future result: an aiming point. If people cannot identify the aiming point it deserves the classification of bad (unclear)

66 Thus a good objective involves a clear aiming point for -

(a) the person who sets the objective, and

(b) the people involved in helping to achieve the obiective. In many cases these include the Subordinates of the people concerned. However the phrase will often include other people in other Departments.
67 A separate set of  notes, called “A Classification for Objectives”, sets out a technique for classifying objectives according to their “clearness”.
“Wrong”
68 Any objective has three broad effects on the next higher level objective that it aims to assist. It can:

(a) assist it,

(b) have no effect on it, or

(c) hinder it.
69 An objective that has no effect on, or hinders, the higher-level objective must rate as a bad (wrong) objective.


70 An objective will also rate as wrong if it assists the next higher-level objective but the next higher-level objective itself rates as “wrong” (bad)


71 These notes make these obvious points to emphasise the use of such questions as – “What should we try to achieve?” and “What next higher-level objective does this objective aim to assist?
“Relatively wrong”
72 People have a limited time available to try to achieve objectives. Hence a situation often arises where giving time to achieving one objective will help the overall situation less than giving time to achieving another objective. Thus where one sub-objective contributes more to a higher-level objective (not necessarily the next higher level) than another, the second sub-objective rates as “relatively wrong”.

”Impractical”
73 Examination of the objectives below a particular “sub objective” helps to classify the sub objective as bad in cases where no-one can achieve it. This situation occurs if no-one can achieve the “part- objectives” on a level below the objective under consideration.
74 Examples of Impractical Objectives. (a) An organisation must use a particular person to achieve a part objective but the person lacks the skill to complete the objective. (b) The material and/or equipment essential to the achievement of an objective becomes unavailable.


Summary
75 Planners should class an objective as bad if it rates as: (a) unclear; (b) wrong; (c) relatively wrong; and (d) impractical. Any objective that does not fall into these four classes probably deserves the rating of good; but other factors may change such a rating.
Going Up or going Down a Hierarchy of Objectives


76 The last approach to rating the badness of objectives (classifying an objective as impractical) involves going “down the hierarchy”, as opposed to going “up the hierarchy”. Going “up the hierarchy” will disclose a bad objective because of a bad higher-level objective. Going “down the hierarchy” can disclose a bad objective because of the inability to achieve a lower-level objective.
Solving Problems by choosing the right Level in a Hierarchy


77 Managers will find the idea of going up and down the hierarchy useful in attempting to establish the location of a problem. Often people try to solve some problem with respect to one level of the hierarchy of objectives when they would gain more by working on an objective at a higher-level.

78 However the converse sometimes occurs: the solution of a lower-level problem will lead to a solution of a higher-level problem. Going “down the hierarchy” will pin-point the real cause. At a higher level, efforts may affect a number of lower-level objectives, none of them with sufficient emphasis to do much good.


[1] Readers should note the use of the plural of the word – objectives. One objective by itself would not deserve the label – a plan.

Objectives – Part 2

Introduction

1 These notes on objectives aim to (a) Encourage Readers to give more attention to setting objectives and (b) Help them produce wiser and more specific objectives.

2 Part 1 of these notes defined objectives and introduced the details of the Hierarchy of Objectives and various relationships between objectives.

3 These notes (Part 2) discuss the inevitable conflict between four classes of objectives and the need to try to ensure that all objectives contribute towards the Organisation’s objectives. The notes discuss priorities between objectives and some examples of broad organisational objectives.

4 After discussing some points on the impermanence of objectives at different levels, the notes conclude with some principles to help set objectives.

Conflicting Objectives

5 Within any organisation difficulties always exist in deciding the importance of various objectives. However, some objectives specifically conflict one with another and a decision to try to achieve one automatically makes a decision against another. Many decisions result from a compromise between two conflicting objectives.

6 The following paragraphs identify four broad classes of competing objectives.

Examples

 (a) Objectives with different time aspects. This conflict occurs where the long-term needs of an organisation conflict with the short-term needs. Long-term profits versus short-term profits.
(b) Different Levels within an organisation. This situation most often occurs between the total organisation as compared with one of its parts . “Why doesn’t Head Office let Branches make decisions which relate to the local market?”
(c) One part of the organisation versus another part.Often the conflict occurs between different specialist functions “Why can’t Production become more Sales-minded?”
(d) The Organisation (or one of its parts) versus the personal objectives of one or more members of the Organisation. “I must leave early tonight; I promised to attend a meeting”


7
The following paragraphs examine the above conflicting objectives in more detail.

Conflict between Objectives that cover Different Time Periods

8 A Company has the following two objectives; (a) Pay a reasonable dividend to its Shareholders and (b) Spend money on research and development (to keep abreast of its Competitors). These objectives compete against each other. A dividend paid now will help to keep the Company’s standing (and share price) high. However if the Company invests no money in research it may find itself in a very unsatisfactory position in five or ten years time.

9 On the personal level, objectives also compete with respect to the time element: Should Sales Representatives always spend sometime looking for new business or give good service to their present Customers? Managers have to balance the advantages of (a) having someone else trained to do a particular job with (b) the disadvantage of having it done more slowly by people when learning to do the new job.

Conflict between Objectives at different Levels of an Organisation

10 Most (probably all) Organisations have situations where a higher-level Executive (e.g. someone at Head Office) makes a decision which causes one of the parts of the Organisation to spend money and/or lose income. However, people may make such a decision because the gain in Section A will exceed the loss in Section B. People will recognise the point provided they have all the information. However sometimes people disagree on the overall benefit to the total Organisation as compared with a definite loss to one or more of the parts.

11 Even with the best of communications and goodwill among the people in the different parts, people often become more interested in success for their own smaller group as compared with a larger group’s success. The people feel closer to their smaller group.

12 Business organisations often encourage this feeling by evaluating and regarding people based on the results of their own particular Sections. This attitude of Management, demonstrated by practical rewards (e.g. bonuses on section profits) help to emphasise conflict between different sections. Sometimes the approach leads to some very bad objectives – as the following shows.

13 Conflict between the objectives of different levels often occurs with respect to some limitation of authority placed on a lower level.

     14 Example. Tom has a problem that he can solve by two different methods. The less-expensive method does not lie within his authority. Thus, Tom chooses to use the more-expensive method.

 15 This situation often occurs because of a classification of types of expenditure – capital items versus current expenditure.

16 Example.  Pat, a Supervisor, wants to repair a piece of faulty equipment. He has the position authority to get it repaired but not to buy a replacement part. The Company would benefit overall by the buying of a replacement but because Pat can achieve his objectives within his own authority by authorising a repair, a strong temptation exists to make a decision to repair it.


17 Each level of a business and each particular specialised section often see their overall Organisation from different viewpoints. Thus the objectives of each will differ. The above example only shows one type: in other cases, a less-obvious conflict between objectives exists. Sometimes rules and procedures encourage people to do something that will rate as good when viewed narrowly, but bad from a broader overall viewpoint.

18 When Managers become aware of such conflicting objectives, they should have a greater chance to avoid framing rules and procedures that will make such poor situations. Their awareness will not solve problems but it will help Managers to realise that such problems probably exist.

Conflict between Objectives of Different Departments

 19 Managers group people with common objectives together but one group’s objectives often conflict with the objectives of another group

     20 Example. The Sales Department would like to have a large variety of its products in varying colours available for sale at points close to their Customers. The Production Department would like long production runs of a few products in very few colours. The Finance Department wants a low amount of stock since it ties up less money. However, this approach competes against the Sales Department who do not want to run out of stock and the Production Department want to stockpile since this objective allows longer production runs.


21 An important objective of General Managers involves ensuring that the objectives of each Department complement the objectives of the whole Organisation. However, too often Organisations exist which foster the view that Employees work for one section of the Organisation rather than the Organisation as a whole. In these cases, the departmental objectives become more important to departmental personnel than organisational objectives.

22 A variation of the conflict between a total Organisation and one of its parts often occurs with respect to (a) personal objectives of various specialist personnel and functions and (b) organisational objectives.

23 Some Engineers and Accountants want to do perfect work when the cost of perfection far outweighs the benefits obtained for the Organisation as a whole.

     24 Example. An Accountant spends $1 to collect a debt of five cents. A typist “must” lay out a letter or memo with great care when both Sender and Receiver would prefer the Typist to get the letter done quickly even if not laid out “perfectly”.

All Objectives should contribute towards the Organisation’s Objectives

25 Conflicting objectives always exist when trying to (a) balance the long-term with the short-term and (b) make the best allocation of the limited resources available. Thus, any decision between conflicting objectives represents a compromise. However Managers can (and should) aim to remove conflict between specialised departments and different levels.

26 Nevertheless many cases still exist where Managers will only achieve a compromise, i.e. each Section will never achieve completely their narrow objectives.

     27 Example Senior Managers cannot let (a) Production do long runs with few product types or (b) Sales have many types with plenty in stock so that they never run out of any colour or type. Both departments will sacrifice some aspects of their objectives but the whole Organisation will have a better chance to reach its overall objective

28 Objectives of each part of the total Organisation should contribute towards achieving the objectives of the overall Organisation. Managers will find this objective a clear aiming point but hard to achieve in practice, especially with large and complex Organisations. Where someone can quantify the advantages and disadvantages of different objectives (i.e. place a value on them) Managers can make better decisions. However, this situation rarely occurs because of the difficulty of evaluating many factors e.g. the value of – training courses, high morale, gardens around a factory, safety programs, carpet on the floor, an office to oneself.

Conflict between Company and Personal Objectives

29 People have various needs that they try to satisfy and not all of these needs relate directly to their work. Quite often conflict exists between (a) a person’s personal needs and (b) the needs of the Organisation. The satisfaction of some personal needs will help the Organisation for which the person works; in other cases, it will not.


30 Example. While working on the job Harry, a footballer, saves his strength and thinks about tactics for the next match and so contributes less to his work. Mary has a strong personal need to succeed in her job and such a need probably will help her Organisation.

31 Even if people give full attention to work problems, their own personal objectives may harm the Organisation.

     32 Examples. The following phrases suggest situations where peoples’ needs get more importance than the Organisation’s needs: “Empire building”, “status seeking”, “passing the buck”, “playing it safe”.

33 All Managers have to deal with these types of problems. The best approach to reducing conflict involves finding ways of providing Organisational objectives that will harmonise with personal objectives. If Subordinates can obtain personal satisfaction by reaching Organisational objectives, few problems exist. Sometimes Managers can link together the things which a person needs (higher pay, a bonus, praise, greater security, recognition, a more-challenging job, etc.) with the objectives of the Organisation or one of its parts.

34 However, in practice, Managers often find this objective difficult to achieve. Often they do not even find (or seek to find) the needs of each person. In other cases, Managers may not discover for some time that some people have personal objectives that will harm the Organisation. Further, people always have some personal objectives at some times, which they rate as more important than satisfying Organisational objectives.

35 Managers should realise that they can never obtain a perfect situation in which Subordinates always work toward the Organisation’s and Section’s objectives. They should understand the factors involved and aim to achieve the best-possible compromise.

Priority of Objectives

36 Whenever a number of conflicting objectives exist, someone can establish an order of importance from the viewpoint of -

      (a)   the whole Organisation,

      (b)   each Section, and

     (c)   each Member of the Organisation.

37 Probably an Organisation will achieve more useful objectives if the priority given to objectives by the whole Organisation, its subdivisions, and its Members all have much the same order – provided some other factors do not outweigh the ones mentioned.

     38 Examples. Harry has as his objective “steal from the company”. He gives it a much higher priority than “do his job”. In this case, the Organisation will function less well if Harry achieves the personal objectives or gives it much attention.

39 Mary has charge of a section involved in the development of a new product. To carry out the new-product development, Mary’s people need to use plant and machinery controlled by another section. This situation leads to conflict under the following circumstances.

      (a) the plant and machinery spends nearly all of its time producing the very-profitable lines or,

     (b) the company decides to sell the plant because it has decided to stop making the products which the machinery produces (NOT the possible new product) or,

     (c) Market Research discovers the product under development will not find a market. The Section Head, Mary, knew of the plan to carry out market research but would not wait for the results.

40 The problem of what to do next always exists. If people choose the objective that will most help their Section and the whole Organisation, and, if it also helps to satisfy their own important needs, then harmony and efficiency exist. However, Managers often find it hard to choose between various objectives. Sometimes they favour objectives which they suspect will not help the overall Organisation but which will satisfy their own personal needs.

41 All Managers should seek to achieve this state of harmony. However, in addition, they must make wise decisions, i.e. select the correct objectives for the Organisation as a whole.

Some Examples of broad organisational Objectives.

42 There exists a variety of broad or major objectives which an Organisation might decide to adopt. The following section gives some examples.

The Profit Objective

43 Some people tend to believe that “financial profit” represents the objective of all enterprises. However, consideration of such organisations as churches, schools, hospitals, and charities disproves that idea. The latter organisations aim to provide useful and socially-desirable services. Sometimes they rely on donations, contributions, and endowments for sufficient funds to keep the organisation going.

44 Many people claim the objectives: make a profit represents the objective of all business enterprises. This phrase provides a true answer – but only to a very limited extent. Unless an organisation makes a profit, it quickly reaches a stage where it cannot operate. Businesses must provide sufficient profits to (a) pay reasonable returns to their Owners, (b) improve and develop their facilities, and (c) provide reserves for bad times in the future.

45 However Managers who adopt making profits as the sole primary objective of their Organisation may have the wrong emphasis in their objective setting (= planning). As with other broad objectives, sub-objectives must exist which will help achieve the profit.

46 The pursuit of financial profits as the sole basic goal provides very little guidance to Managers. They all have to make profits.[1] Managers want to know what activities they should carry out to make a profit since profits can only occur through some activity. Thus, businesses need to offer competitively-priced goods or services of appropriate quality to the public. However, the objectives of an Organisation have an important effect on the thinking attitude of its Members. If the Members accept profit as their main target, immediate moneymaking consideration may tend to take the place of long-range, forward-looking efforts that will also ensure profits in the future.

47 Many people use the phrase “maximise profits” as a “good” objective. However, when Managers apply this guideline to their problems, they find the phrase helps them very little. It does not tell how to “maximise profits. It does not tell them how to (a) balance long-term and short-term profits or (b) the period over which to try to “maximise profits”. They will find many activities where they will NOT know their cost and how much they contribute to the profits, e.g. labour turnover, training courses, time spend in promoting higher morale, etc.).

48 Managers should not place primary stress on making profits, but they should not under-rate the importance of making a profit. Some people avoid placing any stress on the need to make profits – in the belief that it may offend some people. If followed to a logical conclusion this idea means the end of a business. People will not invest their money unless they get a return (dividend) from out of profits. People will not donate to organisations that do not provide a socially-desirable service.

49 A business organisation must give consideration to making profits if it wants to prosper. However, Managers should emphasise the means of making a profit rather than the making of profit itself.

Status-quo Objectives

50 Many Organisations conduct themselves as though they aim to maintain their present position. Such Organisations generally do not have objectives set out in any formal way – the activities of its Managers allow the observer to deduce their objectives. These organisations tend to: a) avoid even moderate degrees of risk, (b) plan conservatively, and (c) follow well-established procedures. This status-quo- type objectives exist in Organisations where the Owners consider present operations satisfactory, where Managers have little incentive to make progress, or where failure of a project might lead to Managers losing their position.

51 Managers should realise the dangers of the status-quo objective. In the changing world of today, Managers will find it difficult to hold their Organisations in the same place when other Organisations continually change their positions. Satisfaction with the present can breed satisfaction with the Organisation’s products and its services. However, if other Organisations change and/or the demands of the public change, an Organisation may find itself well below its desired position very quickly. Often the realisation that an Organisation has slipped comes too late for it to catch up.  Status-Quo objectives breed a dangerous complacency.


Expansion Objectives

52 Some Organisations have among their objectives the goal of becoming the largest of their kind. They aim at (a) ever-increasing sales levels and (b) becoming the first to develop something. The idea of achieving bigness dominates their thinking. They make short-term sacrifices for long-term benefits.

53 Objectives of this kind, if achieved, solve many problems. The Organisation hires staff and promotes them rather than dismissing them or frustrating them by making promotion dependent on the death of Superiors. Work exists for all and people can obtain satisfaction from seeing their organisation grow.

54 However expansion often involves taking risks. If the expansion produces losses, the Organisation can go out of existence.

Social Objectives

55 Some business Organisations adopt the improvement of social conditions as their objectives. They do not aim at profit, security, or bigness but dedicate themselves to improving industrial relations, creating jobs for people, serving the community, and helping Employees in their social adjustments.

56 Thus some people believe Organisations should devote some of their resources to these social objectives. However, if a profit-seeking Organisation spends much time and money achieving social objectives; it will have less time and money to spend on other objectives.

57 This approach might mean that an Organisation would grow less quickly if it uses money on social objectives as compared with say development work on new products. Probably the key lies in finding the means to carry out social objectives and make a profit. Some Governments encourage this type of activity by the use of taxation concessions, rebates, etc.

Perfectionist Objectives

58 An Organisation with perfectionist objectives uses many of its energies to achieve high standards – sometimes without really helping achievement of profit.

      59 Examples. The ABC Company tries to (a) achieve a very high standard of finish” on all products even where no-one really sees the finish, (b) maintain smaller tolerances on production work than those normally accepted, or (c) service only highly-selected and discriminating Customers.

60 Scope exists for this type of Organisation because some part of the market will generally pay a higher price for a better article. However to concentrate too much on perfection (particularly where perfection does not improve the utility or appearance or effectiveness of the article) will restrict the growth possibilities of the Organisation because of the limited market. It may even result in the Organisation going out of business through failure to receive sufficient revenue to meet costs. It may find its selling price will not recover the cost of achieving perfection.

61 Every Organisation should probably include SOME elements of the perfectionist objectives in its objectives. However, every Organisation has the problem of finding the right balance between the cost involved in achieving high standards and the money obtainable from Customers for such a standard.

Objectives for Parts of the Organisation

62 Many objectives exist for parts of an Organisation. Readers will obtain no special value if these notes try to list them since they will vary with the level within the Organisation and the Organisations objectives as a whole.


The Impermanence of Objectives


The Impermanence of Broad Organisational Objectives

63 An Organisation must have an objective or a number of objectives (even if vague and unwritten) Once it has achieved these objectives the organisation has no further need to exist. A similar situation occurs where an Organisation cannot achieve its objectives. Thus, an organisation that keeps the same objective for too long may go out of business. To achieve continuity, business organisations probably need new objectives.

64 For many Organisations. continuity of survival becomes an objective of its own. Members have a personal interest in keeping the organisation alive even though from other viewpoints e.g. the nation or the creditors), it should cease to exist.

65 The following list shows a number of factors that often cause an Organisation to change its objectives.

F a c t o r

E x a m p l e s

(a) Changed economic conditions A Depression.
(h) Changed conditions of competition A large Company enters the field.
(c) Change in size of business The objective of selling only in city areas may need alteration
(d) New methods of distribution. Sales by vending machines
(e) New markets. Two cars per family, the teen-age market.
(f) Changes in Government. The opposition party wins the election
(g) Changes in Law. Introduction of laws covering restrictive trade practices.
(h) Technical innovation. Invention of the motorcar, transistors, computers.
(i) Changes in ownership. The new owner wants to emphasis a different approach.

66 Organisations that do not regularly review their overall objective(s) run the risk of finding themselves with objectives that will make it impossible for them to operate profitably.

     67 Examples. The makers of horse carriages and buggies gradually found themselves without business after the introduction of the motor car. The makers of the films overcame the problem of television once they decided to take as their objective the provision of moving picture entertainment shown through both picture theatres and television sets.


The Impermanence of Lower-Level Objectives

68 Objectives of the Members and Sections of an Organisation (at the lower levels) change more than objectives of the Organisation as a whole or its major Divisions. The objectives will have a much shorter time span.

      69 Examples Fix the pump, Prepare October’s monthly statements, Call on customer “Y”; Dictate an answer to the complaint from a Customer.

70 Problems will arise which will cause Managers to give objectives a different order of importance: they will change some, discard others; some will become impossible, others much more important. Sometimes changed objectives at a higher level will cause the change. More often specific problems on the job will cause the change.

     71 Examples   Someone stays away from work, a machine breaks down, the new procedure does not work, an accounting report “refuses” to balance the quality of the product does not reach the standard required.

72 The very nature of the work of lower-level Managers (and the Operators whom they manage) brings with it impermanence of objectives. Managers who do well will see the need to review continually sub objectives against the background of ever-changing circumstances of the work environment.
73 Objectives that have a short-time span often change.

     74 Examples A machine breakdown changes the objective as regards finishing time but the objective of producing 1000 articles remains the same. A Supervisor (usually) gives more attention to fixing a machine as opposed to such matters as looking after a new employee or planning next month’s operations.

75 The very nature of the day-to-day problems of people at lower levels in any Organisation means most lower-level Managers give too much attention to the short-term objectives as opposed to longer-term ones. Probably this tendency occurs because Managers find it easier to evaluate a short-term objective as having relevance to their Section’s Objectives.

      76 Example   Mary judges fixing a machine to get production going as more relevant than careful training of an Operator.

77 Managers often find that, if they had given more time to planning, some of their problems would never have arisen. The problem of competing objectives faces individual Managers at all levels but especially ones closest to the actual operation of the Organisation. Managers who can select the right objective to tackle next will do a great deal towards managing effectively.

Difficulties in providing Principles to help set Objectives

 78 Managers usually accept the difficulty of setting sound and well-integrated objectives. These notes suggest they need guiding principles to help them set objectives and use them effectively in an Organisation.

79 Management Writers have written little on specific rules for setting objectives. This situation probably occurs because of the wide variety of situations in which people set objectives and the many different types of objectives set.

80 The following principles relate mostly to objectives applicable to more than one person and which cover more than a short period (longer than one day or week). The notes discuss the matter briefly. They do not present an exhaustive treatment of the topic of – principles for setting objectives.

A broad Classification of the Principles discussed

81. The following paragraphs group the principles listed into the following classes:

     (a) Areas in which Managers should set objectives,

     (b) Some desirable objectives to use when setting objectives

     (c) How to keep objectives in mind in order to minimise competition between them, and

     (d) Who should set objectives?

Identifying the Areas in which Managers should set Objectives

82 Managers cannot set objectives for a particular activity unless they consider the activity.
83 Example. Dick does not think about longer-term planning or research into selecting personnel or the need for more specific and measurable standards and therefore does not set objectives in these areas.

84 In his book, Practice of Management, Peter Drucker lists eight major areas.  He believes that Managers should set objectives for these areas. They should decide what to measure in each areas and the yardsticks or standards) for these factors. However, he comments – only “shaky’ measuring devices and yardsticks exist for many factors,

85 Drucker suggests the following eight areas:

     (a) Market Standing

     (b) Innovation

     (c) Productivity

     (d) Physical and Financial Resources

     (e) Profitability

     (f) Manager Performance and Development

     (g) Worker Performance and Attitude

     (h) Public Responsibility

86 Readers should read Chapter 7 of Drucker’s book, followed by Chapter 11 on Management by Objectives and Staff Control. This latter chapter makes many points about the topic of objectives.

Some desirable Characteristics in Objectives

Put Objectives in writing

87 While many unwritten objectives exist, the very act of writing down something often forces a person to think more about the subject. Sometimes just writing objectives shows up illogical and/or unclear ideas. Further, other people can review written objectives and help identify the unclear and/or inconsistent ones.

88 However Managers should not apply this technique to short-term objectives of a minor nature.

Set Specific and Measurable Objectives

89 Usually Managers will get more value from objectives if they can decide if someone has achieved them – and the extent of their achievement. Someone can evaluate performance with respect to “reduce labour turnover” better than “Obtain better cooperation among the sales office staff”. Specific[2] measurable objectives reduce the chance that people will misunderstand the objectives.

Set Objectives in areas where Managers will find it difficult to set Measurable Objectives

90 The call for specific and measurable objectives should not blind Managers to the need to set objectives in areas of their operations that do not lend themselves to specific objectives. (Example. Managers should give attention to changing attitudes, but they will find it difficult to set measurable objectives for this area.) Intangible and unclear areas of Managing require attention. However, the difficulty of setting specific objectives for these areas should NOT encourage Managers to give little, or no, attention to them.

Use Objectives that emphasise teamwork

91 Since the objectives of all the parts should contribute to the achievement of objectives of the whole, Managers should stress the interdependence and the need for teamwork and cooperation to everyone involved. Most, if not all, Sections should have as one of their objectives the aim of assisting other Sections in specific ways. Managers should write down these particular aims and communicate them to other interested parties.

92 The atmosphere of the Organisation and the way Managers act should help Section Managers to realise the importance of viewing each Section as a part of the whole. The total Organisation depends on each particular part achieving its objectives.

Realise the likelihood of conflicting Objectives and consider methods of eliminating this conflict

93 Managers will accept the inevitability of conflicting objectives. However too often Managers forget the danger and forget to do something about overcoming it. In coaching and training Managers, this point needs attention.

94 It follows that any Organisation should establish procedures to compare objectives of different parts of the Organisation. The greater the number of levels in an Organisation, the greater the chance that conflicting objectives will exist – simply because of the greater difficulties of communicating everyone’s objective to each other.

95 Managers can use a variety of approaches. One approach involves two different levels writing down their objectives and comparing them. Supervisors write down the objective of their Subordinates’ positions and the Subordinates write down the objective of their own positions. Organisations that have not previously used this approach may find the results disturbing – but better a disturbance now than continuing conflicting objectives, with resulting inefficiencies.

96 (Organisations may extend this approach by having the people involved list other matters beside objectives, e.g. the things which their Supervisors do which annoy them and/or decrease their Section’s efficiency.)

106 Two-way communications will help to ensure that the objectives of the various parts (sub-objectives) will assist in attaining the objectives of the larger part or whole.If a higher-level Manager determines and issues objectives to a Manager on a lower level the lower-level Manager usually accepts them – at least on the surface. The lower-level Manager may not feel encouraged to dispute the objectives or discuss them, Such handing down of objectives will tend to reduce two-way discussion of the objectives.

107 When subordinate Managers set their own objectives a greater chance exists that their Superiors will review their objectives in a less-dominating way and see how they contribute toward the objectives of the larger unit. The Superiors will not have undue influence over their Subordinates – at least not until they get their Subordinates ideas.

108 Managers who set their own objectives obtain useful practice in managingPractice in decision-making should help to develop better Managers. They should get practice in making the decisions involved in recommendingobjectives for their particular Section of the Organisation.

109 A consideration of the above points will show good reason for following the principle that Managers should set objectives for the parts of the Organisation that they control. However in turn they should encourage their Subordinates to set their own objectives. This point means that objective setting, in a narrow sense, comes from the bottom level of the organisation upwards. However, Managers should set objectives after higher Managers have communicated downwards the knowledge of broader higher-level objectives.

110 All levels must set objectives. People should set more wise objectives if an Organisation can achieve free and open communication between the people involved.

111 The element of participation rates as important but it will mean little unless Managers feel they must achieve the Organisations sub-objectives (i.e. the sub-objectives of their Sections) these objectives will help to achieve the objectives of larger parts of the Organisation.

 Conclusion

112 Management Researchers and Managers still have much to do to make objective setting an easier and more-logical process. Managers should realise the great importance of objectives and the widespread applicability to most aspects of their daily work. Clear objectives, wisely set, and well understood throughout an Organisation will make solving many other problems a much-easier task.

113 The notes – ‘How to set wiser and more-specific Objectives” provide a specific procedure for helping people set better objectives.


[1] In the case of not-for-profit organisations, their income has to exceed their expenditure. If not, these Organisations will have to reduce the services they offer or go out of existence.

[2] Many Writers use “Specific” in common with objectives without clearly defining what they mean. The notes on “A Classification for Objectives” provide a definition of “specific” objectives.

Objectives – Part 1

Introduction

1 These notes aim to (a) Encourage Readers to give more attention to setting objectives and (b) Help them produce wiser and more specific-objectives.

2 The notes provide a detailed meaning for the word “Objective”. They discuss the necessity for objectives and where objectives fit into the activities of (a) Managing and (b) Operating. Then they introduce the idea of a helping relationship between objectives that leads to an explanation of the hierarchy of objectives. This concept introduces different types of helping relationships and the notes then discuss part objectives and hope objectives as well as independent and dependent relationships between any two objectives. After illustrating the use of the hierarchy of objectives, they explain how to distinguish a good (wise) objective from a bad (unwise) objective.

3 Part 2 of these notes looks at the various classes of objectives, competition between them, the impermanence of objectives at different organisational levels, and discusses some principles to use when setting objectives.

A Meaning for – Objective

4 The idea of an objective contains a number of elements. First, it implies a “something” which no one has achieved at a given time, but which someone believes someone should achieve. Provided someone tries to achieve this “something”, then an objective exists.

      5 Example. Alan believes he, himself, should try to achieve a specific objective, such as - “Purchase a new machine”.

6 Second, an objective exists if someone believes someone should attempt to achieve an objective, even if this “someone” does not believe he/she should try to achieve it. Thus, one person might plan that someone else should have a particular objective.

     7 Example. Alan believes Mary should “start an education course” and “write all objectives so they start with a verb”.

 8 Third, the achievement of an objective does not need to occur for an objective to exist. If an aiming point exists in a person’s mind (for that person or someone else) then an objective exists.

9 Fourth, an objective must refer to something in the future. Attempts to achieve an objective and its possible achievement can only occur in the future. However, the result may already exist and then the objective involves maintaining a situation.

      10 Example. Keep the boiler’s temperature at between 200-210 degrees until the end of the shift.

11 These notes call the ‘something” a result and define it as  – Resultthe state of something at one point of time or for a period of time.

12 The above points, collected together help to define an Objective -a result in the future that someone believes someone should try to achieve.

13 The following provides a briefer, but not complete, definition of an objective – A future result that someone tries to achieve. This briefer definition leaves out situations where someone selects an objective that the “Selector” believes someone else should try to achieve.

The Necessity for Objectives

14 Most people will find it difficult to imagine any activity taking place without an objective. Sometimes people will class the objective as unclear or different from one time to another and different people will have different ideas about it. However, any activity must try to achieve some result in the future even if only “continue the activity” or “finish the activity”.

Where do Objectives fit into the activity of Managing?

15 If people accept a definition of Managing as: the process of determining an objective and trying to achieve it through the effort of other people, then objectives must rate as important in managing. All Managers at every level of an organisation must concern themselves with objectives – the ones they set themselves and the ones set for them.

The need to think consciously about Objectives

16 Even though activity implies some objective, many people find themselves carrying out some activity without a very clear idea of the end objective. All too frequently Organisations realise their members have pulled in different directions (conflicting objectives) or they have aimed for wrong objectives. Other cases occur where people give the objectives or parts of the Organisation too much attention and/or forget the overall objective.

17 From time to time, all Managers will find it profitable to consider the objective of their Organisation or Section and check whether their current activities contribute to these objectives. Managers (indeed everyone) should use the following question more frequently: “What objective(s) should we aim to achieve?” More frequent use of this question would help to improve almost all Organisations. Moreover, Managers need to communicate the answer to anyone connected with any activities that aim to achieve the Organisation’s objectives.

Operators as well as Managers set Objectives

18 These notes define the word “objective” in a very broad way. However, some people believe that the word “objective” refers only to aims set by people who have high-level jobs in an Organisation. The definition used in these notes opposes this view. If objectives cover future results then everyone in an Organisation sets objectives. Whenever some people higher in an Organisation set objectives for people below, then these lower-level people have to determine ways and means of carrying out these objectives. These “ways and means” imply setting other objectives. Ideally, such objectives should aim to help achieve the objectives set by higher-level people.

19 People at the very bottom of an organisation set objectives.

     20 Examples. Any Operator can set the objective of producing (say) 30 parts in a day and aim to reach this level within a week of starting the job. An Operator (Tom) feels particularly keen one day and decides to beat his previous record for the number produced. Mary speeds up her last job so she can get finished early. Harry makes his last job for the day take a little longer.

21 These examples show that people set some of their own objectives, some of which help to achieve the objectives of their respective Supervisors.

An important relationship between Objectives: one helps to achieve another

22 For any two objectives, a particular relationship exists i.e. one objective helps to achieve the other objective.

     23 Examples (a) “Unscrew the lid of the bottle” will help to achieve (b) “Take out some of bottle’s contents”.

24 If a circle represents an objective and a connecting arrow shows the above-mentioned relationship of “help to achieve” the diagram below shows the relationship visually: Note: the head on the arrow always points to the higher-level objective.

25 These notes call the higher-level objective an objective and the lower-level one, a sub-objective.

Objectives and Sub-Objectives – Interchangeability of these Terms

26 Once someone determines an end objective they can identify a whole series of other objectives, subsidiary to the overall (or end) objective. These notes call these other objectives “sub-objectives”. However, from another viewpoint, the overall objective deserves a label “sub-objective” since it will help to achieve some other still-higher-level objective. Similarly, the sub-objective becomes an objective from the viewpoint of objectives at a still lower level.

27 An objective’s classification as an objective or sub-objective depends on the viewpoint taken, i.e. the level from which someone “views” the objective.

HIERARCHY OF OBJECTIVES

28 In any activity, a number of sub-objectives exist which someone believes will help to achieve a higher-level objective. The diagram below shows the relationship visually.

29 In the above diagram, the Drawer (or Planner) believes that Objectives A, B, and C will assist the achievement of Objective “X”. The diagram shows that Objectives 1-4 inclusive will help to achieve Objective “A”, and so on. The diagram also shows different levels of objectives.

30 These notes use the phrase Hierarchy of Objectives to describe the above type of diagram. The phrase “Hierarchy of Objectives” describes a group of objectives arranged to identify, and link together, objectives which have a high probability of helping to achieve other objectives in the group.

31 The following shows a more specific example which should help to make the idea of relationships clearer. It also shows the grouping of various objectives.

A hierarchy of objectives shows a plan

32 The activity of trying to determine objectives[1] which will achieve a given objective involves people in deliberating thinking about what someone (sometimes including themselves) should do. This activity equals planning – a conscious thinking process aimed at determining objectives. Most people call the end result of planning – a plan. These notes define a plan as – a group of objectives that someone believes will all help to achieve an (end) objective.


33 A Hierarchy of Objectives describes a group of objectives which someone believes will (help to) achieve an end objective. Thus Hierarchies equal plans provided the Drawer of the Hierarchy believes the Hierarchy includes sufficient objectives to achieve the end objective – assuming someone achieves the objectives and in the right sequence.

Two Types of Relationships between Objectives

34 At least two types of “helping” relationships exist between objectives:

      (a) One objective will help to achieve another objective – classed as a fact, not opinion, and

     (b) Someone believes one objective has a high probability of helping another. This relationship rates as an opinion – not everyone need agree on the helping relationship or its strength.

35 These notes call a sub-objective which has the first relationship (Will help) with the next-higher level objective a Part Objective. They call a sub-objective with the second relationship – a Hope Objective –

     36 Example Fill the black kettle with one litre of boiling water” (Objective A) must help the achievement of “Obtain a litre of boiling water in the black kettle (Objective B). Objective A provides an example of a “Part-Objective” - in relation to Objective B.

37 Where sufficient “Part Objectives” exist, their achievement (in a correct sequence) will equal the achievement of the next-higher-level objective.

     38 Example. The achievement of Objectives “A” plus Objective “C” (Place the kettle on the lighted gas and leave for ten minutes) equals the achievement of “Obtain a boiling litre of water”.

39 The introduction of these two technical terms: “hope-objective” and “part-objective” helps to identify different planning problems.

40 In the actual process of planning two major problems exist:

     (a) Has the Planner discovered all part-objectives?

     (b) Where the Planner cannot establish all the part-objectives then the Planner needs to consider whether the “sub-objectives” really help achieve the next higher-level objective.

2 Hierarchies do not show a sequence for achieving the objectives which the Hierarchy shows on the same level. However, do plans have to show sequence of objectives?

41 An Example to illustrate the latter problem. The objective: “Replace the Foreman” may help the objective: “Increase the productivity of the factory”. If the lowness of productivity has nothing to do with the existing Foreman then this “sub-objective” will not really deserve the term “part-objective’.

Another type of Relationship between Objectives: Dependent and Independent

42 Another relationship exists between objectives – attempts to achieve one objective cannot start until someone completes another objective. (Dependent Relationship). In other cases attempts to achieve both objectives can occur together – provided enough resources (e.g. people and machines) exist. (Independent Relationship).

43 Example Consider the objective: Send a letter to a Customer. The following lower-level “sub-objectives” exist for it: Dictate letter, Transport dictating machine to Typist’s office, Type letter from dictation tape, Take letter to Dictator’s office, Sign, Put into envelope, Stamp, and Post.

44 In this example, some people can achieve some “sub-objectives” without waiting for other people. A Secretary or Clerk could stamp the envelope before a Secretary takes the letter to the dictator’s office for signature. In this case the two objectives rate as independent, i.e. an organisation can get both done at the same time.

45 The above ideas lead to a distinction between objectives which will help people to plan better. This distinction involves classifying some as Dependent i.e. one (some) objective(s) cannot commence until someone achieves another (some) objective(s).

46 However sometimes an Organisation cannot attempt to achieve two objectives at the same time- but only because the Organisation does not have sufficient resources. Readers should note that this situation does make the two objectives dependent.

47 The real test of dependency rests on imagining unlimited resources but still finding that the total resource effort cannot start to achieve one objective until the overall group (or one of its parts) achieves one objective.

      48 Example. The objectives of (a) Type letter cannot commence until the finish of (b) Dictate letter. (However a machine which translates the voice of the dictator into a typed letter will alter the situation.)

49 Another important point relates to the dependent/independent relationship; once someone introduces the speed of achieving each sub objective a reduction in independence occurs.

     50 Example. In the above example of getting dressed, given the fact that the clothes lie at various points and the person starts getting dressed from a particular point the minimum distance to walk becomes important. In this case a strict order of doing things becomes important if the objective of getting dressed within the shortest possible time becomes the real objective.

51 When the end objective includes “in the shortest time possible” the hierarchy of objectives becomes one long chain – someone decides a definite sequence for trying to achieve each objective – because each objective now includes a time factor.

The Usefulness of the Hierarchy of Objectives

52 Everyone faces the following problems regularly: decide the job to do next. Even in high-level objectives, a right order for tackling the objectives exists (even if difficult to discover). The hierarchy of objectives helps reduce some of the conflict problems with respect to deciding the sequence of tackling objectives. The next section illustrates the point.

53 The hierarchy of objectives also allows a more-detailed and systematic examination of the process of planning. Further, it helps to identify various types of planning more clearly because Investigators have available to them different ideas and concepts. A major objective in helping Managers to manage better involves identifying good objectives as opposed to bad objectives. The hierarchy of objectives helps achieve this objective (see later).

Deciding Which Job to do next – an Example

54 The following paragraphs give an example of how looking for relationships between objectives can help to decide priority between objectives.

55 Harry, a Manager, has to decide whether he should:

     (a)   write out a draft advertisement, or

     (b)  read a long memo from his Boss, or

     (c)   attend to a recommendation from a Subordinate, or

     (d)  deal with a customer complaint.

56 All these objectives compete against each other for attention. However if the heading of the memo from the Boss reads “Second thoughts on the necessity to appoint a new person” then Harry should probably read the memo first. It may say – Do not proceed with the advertisement”. The Subordinate’s recommendation may turn out to cover the Customer’s complaint so it may represent early stages in dealing with the complaint.

57 Originally the four objectives appear to offer four possible jobs on which to start work. A Manager would have to chose one of the most important with only a low certainly about the “right” order of importance.

58 Whenever Managers can establish relationships between objectives (as in the above example) apparent competition between objectives may cease since the relationships show clearly that one objective should have preference over another.

59 The question: “What next higher-level objective does this objective aim to assist?” will usually help to check relationships.

60 Difficulties occur for all Managers because they must deal with many “hope objectives”. The objectives may help to contribute to some higher-level objective. However different people will find difficulty in establishing such relationships and disagree about the strength of the relationships they find. Such efforts often prove helpful because the strength of the relationships often helps decide priorities.

The need to distinguish a “Good” Objective from a “Bad” Objective

61 Everyone will benefit from an ability to select good (wise) objectives. However, people tend not to look for help in selecting good objectives because most people select objectives and aim to achieve them in the belief that they have selected good objectives. No-one deliberately aims to achieve what they class as a bad objective.

62 Some people classify attempts to check on the goodness of objectives as wasteful. However a detailed consideration of the problems involved in setting objectives should help to convince Readers that they should give more care and attention to considering whether they have set a good or bad objective.

63 The following section discusses this topic. The concept of the hierarchy of objectives underlines much of the following analysis.

How to distinguish a “good’ Objective from a “bad” Objective

64 In attempting to define good objectives, these notes first try to define bad objectives.

“Unclear”

65 An objective refers to a future result: an aiming point. If people cannot identify the aiming point it deserves the classification of bad (unclear)

66 Thus a good objective involves a clear aiming point for -

     (a) the person who sets the objective, and

    (b) the people involved in helping to achieve the obiective. In many cases these include the Subordinates of the people concerned. However the phrase will often include other people in other Departments.

67 A separate set of  notes, called “A Classification for Objectives”, sets out a technique for classifying objectives according to their “clearness”.

“Wrong”

68 Any objective has three broad effects on the next higher level objective that it aims to assist. It can:

     (a) assist it,

     (b) have no effect on it, or

     (c) hinder it.

69 An objective that has no effect on, or hinders, the higher-level objective must rate as a bad (wrong) objective.

70 An objective will also rate as wrong if it assists the next higher-level objective but the next higher-level objective itself rates as “wrong” (bad)

71 These notes make these obvious points to emphasise the use of such questions as – “What should we try to achieve?” and “What next higher-level objective does this objective aim to assist?

“Relatively wrong”

72 People have a limited time available to try to achieve objectives. Hence a situation often arises where giving time to achieving one objective will help the overall situation less than giving time to achieving another objective. Thus where one sub-objective contributes more to a higher-level objective (not necessarily the next higher level) than another, the second sub-objective rates as “relatively wrong”.

”Impractical”

73 Examination of the objectives below a particular “sub objective” helps to classify the sub objective as bad in cases where no-one can achieve it. This situation occurs if no-one can achieve the “part- objectives” on a level below the objective under consideration.

74 Examples of Impractical Objectives. (a) An organisation must use a particular person to achieve a part objective but the person lacks the skill to complete the objective. (b) The material and/or equipment essential to the achievement of an objective becomes unavailable.


Summary

75 Planners should class an objective as bad if it rates as: (a) unclear; (b) wrong; (c) relatively wrong; and (d) impractical. Any objective that does not fall into these four classes probably deserves the rating of good; but other factors may change such a rating.

Going Up or going Down a Hierarchy of Objectives

76 The last approach to rating the badness of objectives (classifying an objective as impractical) involves going “down the hierarchy”, as opposed to going “up the hierarchy”. Going “up the hierarchy” will disclose a bad objective because of a bad higher-level objective. Going “down the hierarchy” can disclose a bad objective because of the inability to achieve a lower-level objective.

Solving Problems by choosing the right Level in a Hierarchy

77 Managers will find the idea of going up and down the hierarchy useful in attempting to establish the location of a problem. Often people try to solve some problem with respect to one level of the hierarchy of objectives when they would gain more by working on an objective at a higher-level.

78 However the converse sometimes occurs: the solution of a lower-level problem will lead to a solution of a higher-level problem. Going “down the hierarchy” will pin-point the real cause. At a higher level, efforts may affect a number of lower-level objectives, none of them with sufficient emphasis to do much good.


[1] Readers should note the use of the plural of the word – objectives. One objective by itself would not deserve the label – a plan.

Planning – Part 2

Introduction

1 Part 1 of these notes defined a plan and planning and discussed a meaning for “plan better” and some important elements in planning. Part 2 discussed how to use the two stages of planning to plan better.

2 This part discusses how the elements in a plan provide another means of studying how to plan better. The notes consider how best to ensure that a plan does include all the parts necessary to make it effective. They also discuss the need for alternative plans, planning in a broader long-term context, and ways of reviewing a completed plan.

The Elements in a Plan

3 Effective Planning will lead to a Plan.

4 A Plan must consist of the following elements:

(a) End Objective[1]

(b) Other Objectives which someone believes will help to achieve the end objective   (called Sub-Objectives in these notes)

5 The plan may include:

(a) when the Planner wants some or all of the sub-objectives

(i) started

(ii) completed and

(iii) the time someone should take to achieve them.
(b) the sequence for starting and/or finishing some or all of the sub-objectives.
(c) the people to achieve the sub-objectives

(d) the resources (other than people) involved in each sub- objective (e.g. machines, material)

(e) the place to achieve the sub-objectives.

The Elements of an Effective Plan

6 The above elements of (just) a Plan merely expand on the definition of a Plan and point out two essential elements and some non-essential elements, An examination of an effectiveplan (as compared with just a plan) may provide more assistance to Planners since it will give them a standard for which to aim.
7 An effective plan will contain the following elements:

(a) All Part Objectives What
(b) NO unnecessary Sub-Objectives
(c) The correct sequence for all Sub Objectives When
(d) The right time to complete the sub –objectives[2] When
(e) The right people to achieve each sub objective Who Both Resources
(f) The right resources (other than people to achieve each Sub Objective What
(g) The right place to achieve each Sub Objective Where[3]

All Part Objectives [4]

8 Part Objectives describe Sub-Objectives that, if achieved, will help to achieve the next higher-level objective. The idea of a will-help connection leaves no room for doubt. The help connection exists as a fact, not just – highly likely to help. If a Part Objective exists which will help to achieve a next higher-level objective a plan cannot rate as effective if it leaves out a Part Objective.


No Unnecessary Sub-Objectives

9 The inclusion of a few unnecessary Sub-Objectives may not stop the achievement of an end objective i.e. affect the effectiveness of a plan.
10 Example, Mary has the objective - Make a cup of milk tea. She may still achieve her objective even if she aims to close a cupboard (after getting out a cup) and/or polish the outside of the teapot with rag. These objectives will not help her achieve her cup of tea; thus they will decrease the efficiency of the plan. However they will probably not stop Mary achieving her objective, i.e. she will still have an effective plan.


11 However in some plans a number of unnecessary Sub-Objectives may confuse someone using the plan. The Implementers may give too much attention to achieving some unnecessary Sub-Objectives and too little attention to other essential Sub-Objectives. Because of misallocation of effort the person may not achieve the end objective. This problem occurs more often in situations where it proves difficult to identify Sub-Objectives which will help achieve the end objective (i.e. unstructured situations); e.g. an end objective concerning changing attitudes.
The Correct Sequence for all Sub-Objectives

12 A Plan may include all Part Objectives (and no unnecessary Sub- Objectives) but the sequence of attempting some, or all, of the Part Objective may mean the difference between achieving, or not achieving, the end objective.
13 Example, If someone wishes to prepare a sealed pay envelope containing the correct money for one particular person the (part) objectives include: (a) Put money into envelope and (b) Seal envelope. If someone seals the envelope before putting in the money (i.e. uses the wrong sequence) the achievement of each Part-Objective will not mean the achievement of the end objective.

 14 The above example shows a simple situation in which people would have no difficulty finding the correct sequence. For such a definite and clearly-structured situation the ideas of Part-Objective and correct sequence provide little help to a Planner. However many situations exist where the Plan has to include Sub-Objectives which no-one can confidently call Part-Objectives and no-one can definitely establish the correct sequence. For these cases, the idea of Part-Objectives and correct sequence does provide a useful standard so that Planners have a more definite aiming point for some aspects of their planning.

 

A Right Time to Complete each Sub-Objective

15 An objective may include a time factor, but some Planners leave out time elements in their Sub-Objectives. Thus this element deserves separate identification.[5]

16 In some plans the end objective includes a time factor for completion and/or a duration time to limit the amount of time spent on trying to achieve the objective. If the Plan does not call for the achievement of some, or all, of the sub-objectives by a certain time; the plan (if followed) may not lead to the achievement of the end objective.

The Right People to Achieve each Sub-Objective

17 Sooner or later someone has to decide who will try to achieve each (sub) objective. An effective plan will identify people who will achieve the sub-Objectives which require people. Such people will (a) have the capacity to achieve the objective and (b) will try to achieve it (if asked).

The Right Resources (other than People) to Achieve each Sub-Objective

18 A Plan will not help to achieve the end objective if it (a) includes resources (machines, materials) which do allow the achievement of other Sub-Objectives and/or the end objective or (b) leaves out vital resources.

19 Example. If one Sub-Objective states “obtain envelopes” (or obtain 9” x 4” envelopes) and the envelopes which someone obtains prove too small to contain the material to go into the envelopes the plan to achieve the end objective “Mail material for the next meeting to all Committee Members” will prove ineffective.

 

The Place to Achieve each Sub-Objective

20 A Plan which specifies wrong places to carry out Sub-Objectives will prove ineffective.

21 Example. If one Sub-Objective states: “Pick up Material ‘X’ from the Melbournecity offices of McDougall and King” yet the Planner has made an error in the name and/or the location and McDonald and Queen hold Material ‘X’ the plan becomes ineffective - assuming material ‘X’ proves essential to the end objective.               


Other Objectives involved in a Plan

22 Plans may involve other objectives than those mentioned above, such as
(a) Decide how to communicate different instructions to the people who have to achieve the sub-objectives.

(b) Decide When, How, Where, and What to check

(c) Decide who to use to check

(d) Find out attitude of people involved to the objectives they have to check

Alternative Plans

23 Plans may also include other plans in case something goes wrong. A Plan might.: (a) identify other people to use if the chosen people reject an objective, (b) list other resources, (c) state different places (different routes for a procession if a sit-down demonstration blocks different streets)

 

Perhaps Plans may contain an almost Infinite Number of Elements

24 The above list of other elements suggests that an almost infinite number of Sub-Objectives exist for many plans.

25 The question of identifying the elements of an effective plan begins to look like the problem of determining the length of a piece of string.

 

How to Improve the Parts of a Plan

26 The following sections examine the elements in a plan – to help find better methods of planning.

27 The sections do not consider the efficiency of the planning (i.e. how long it took to plan). Further they do not discuss how to set good end objectives. However (since sub-objectives “equal” objectives) sometimes the points about sub-objectives will apply to objectives.

Include all Part Objectives

28 Effective plans must include all Part Objectives. Thus, Planners should ask – How do I ensure I do not leave out any Part-Objectives?

 

Keep looking for Part Objectives

29 In everyday life people often ask: Have we forgotten anything? This question warns people to think about, and look for, things they may have forgotten. Thus, it implies – Keen on searching forPart Objectives).

30 Planners should realise they have a good chance of finding more possibilities if they continue to search. This thought provides a useful incentive to keep looking for Part-Objectives.

31 If Planners distinguish between (a) obtaining ideas and (b) evaluating them, they will have more chance of finding additional possible sub-objectives, since they will avoid moving too quickly into the “choose-between-objectives” part of planning.

32 This distinction helps particularly in planning by groups. If people evaluate possible sub-objectives immediately after people suggest them and rate some as unsuitable, the individuals who contribute the sub-objectives will tend to stop searching for more. If they contribute no more sub-objectives, no-one can oppose or criticise their suggestions

33 However Planners should compare the cost of searching for further sub-objectives with the advantages they hope to gain from (a) achieving the end objective and (b) any improvements in efficiency their better plan may give
Use Check Lists

34 A Check List shows a number of items which aim to help people remember to do something.

35 Some Check Lists help a large number of objectives; others only help the particular objective under consideration or a similar one.

 

Use a General Check List

36 The interrogative pronouns: what, when, who, where how, and why[6] provide a general Check List which will help in many problems – as thought-starters, e.g. they show the Planners they must set objectives in certain areas.

37 The Planner has to link the pronouns to the topic under consideration.                   

38 Examples. In planning a Training Course, a Planner would ask: train? Who will we train? Wherewill we train? And so on. In planning to improve a method of work a Planner might ask: How else can we do the job? Whatother material or tools could we use? Whereelse could we do it? Who could do it more cheaply/better? Whenshould we do it? And so on.

39 Check Lists for specific objectives provide a useful aid to Planners and can save a great deal of time. A large number of check lists exist for achieving various end objectives.

40 Examples. Check lists for: entering a new market, manufacturing a new product, evaluating a market research proposal, areas to cover in a selection interview, points to consider when throwing a party.

 

Improve Specific Check Lists

41 Managers who have a recurring end objective will (probably) save time overall and plan much more effectively if they build up a check list with reference to that particular objective.

42 After trying to achieve the objective, a review of the results will usually show the need to add further items to check list.Usually such additions will help the effectiveness and efficiency of future planning

43 Example. People who go away on trips (say overnight interstate business trips) have to take away clothing and other personal effects. If they write out a check list for “things to take” they will find they take less time to pack and have little risk of forgetting anything. Anytime they find something they have not listed (e.g. swimming trunks) they can add it to the check list.

 

Use the Parts of Something as a Check List

44 For any activity (e.g. marketing) a check list would include all the activities involved in the activity. This list should help define sub-objectives for any objective related to the activity.

45 Example. Marketing includes the activities of advertising, personal selling, channels of distribution. A list of these sub activities will help Planners to record sub objectives for the end objective - Plan how to market product ‘x,

 

Use the End Result of a Process as Well as the Parts of a Process

46 As well as breaking a process into parts, the result will contain various elements or parts that also provide a useful checklist.

47 Example. These notes provide an example since they look at (a) the parts of planning and (b) the elements in a plan (the end result of planning).

 

Use Questions

48 Questions can help discover other possibilities. They provide a similar method to that of a check list.

49 Some questions help to find additional Sub-Objectives; others help to evaluate the importance of them in relation to the overall objective.

50 “Logical opposites” Questions. A specific type of question involves asking for the logical opposite of some objective already known.

51 Example. Tom considered “going up”; has he thought of “going down”? Mary thinks of the inside of something; she should think of the outside of something. If a Manager considers the suggested design lay-out of a form he should consider turning it through 90 degrees. If someone has thought of up and down what about sideways?

52 The objective “Do Nothing” provides a possibility, often forgotten. It covers the logical opposite of “Do Something”.

53 Deferment Question. The question: When do we have to make a decision? will often show a delay in decision-making can occur without running any risk at all. The “Decide to defer the decision” objective represents an easily-achieved one. Sometimes it allows Planners to learn other important information which will help them to plan better.

54 Questions concerning preceding and following activities. The questions: What activities would have to take place before objective “X”? and What activities would have to occur after it? provide useful questions to find new Part-Objectives.

 

Record Objectives in a Logical, Systematic and Written Form

55 Written objectives help to ensure Planners do not forget any already-developed objectives. They can leave their planning and return to it without fear of forgetting Sub-Objectives.

56 A logical and systematic procedure will often help identify other Sub-Objectives.

57 Grouping together some objectives that have a common factor will help to ask the logical-opposite question: What opposite objective exists?[7]                

58 Example. Mary, a Canteen Manager, listed down four meals. She realised she had listed four hot meals and suddenly remembered she could also offer cold meals.

59 Placing together, in logical sequence, the objectives that must follow one another[8] will sometimes show up missing objectives.

Use Someone who has made a Similar Plan

60 A person who has (a) planned to achieve the same or similar objectives and/or (b) tried to implement a similar plan may help to find missing part-objectives. Even if such people do not have a written check list they can still assist to find over-looked part objectives, because of their experience.

61 A fresh mind will sometimes find “something missing”, even though they may not have planned for any similar end objective before.

62 Anyone can look for logical inconsistencies.

63 Example. The plan mentions returning a piece of equipment to a store but makes no mention of obtaining the equipment.

 

Use A Trial Run

64 A trial run of the situation provides another method.

65 Example. Harry plans a picnic for (say) a Social Club. He can try out certain aspects of the plan by traveling to the picnic spot and inspecting it about the same time of day as the intended picnic and then travel home from it. If the picnic involves a fire, the trial run could include lighting a fire. If the picnic involves cooking, the trial run would include checking on the availability of water; and so on.

66 Simulationprovides a special type of trial run – of an artificial type. the approach involves selecting certain characteristics of the idea or situation and looking at the results.

67 Examples. Plane designers test a plane by using a model in a wind tunnel. The model represents certain characteristics of the plane such as its shape and proportions and investigates such matters as the drag caused by the shape moving through air. However this simulated test ignores anything to do with the inside of the plane. For this aspect, Planners might build a mock-up inside of the cabin to check (e.g.) how well passengers can get in and out of seats.         

68 Tom, a Warehouse Manager whose Store supplies its own Factory with parts might want to know how long people wait for service. He might find out the average time taken to serve a “customer” (someone wanting to get a new part) and the average number of “customers” who ask for service per hour. This information plus some numbers which represent the times at which customers come for service allows him to simulate typical service days with one, two, or three people giving the service, This figuring would allow him to find out the amount of time people have to wait for service.[9]

69 If the plan involves people, a role-playing situation will provide a trial run.

70 Examples. Mark, a Manager has to interview an applicant for the job of a Sales Representative. He can try out his interviewing technique on someone else - perhaps one of his own Sales Representatives. Jane wants to ask her boss for a rise. She can try out different approaches on her husband or a friend. A Personnel Manager who has to interview a Union delegate might pre-test ideas by trying the approach on someone else

71 All the above examples demonstrate simulation, i.e. when someone tries various factors in a practice run or trial situation.

 

Exclude unnecessary Sub-Objectives

72 While some unnecessary sub-objectives will not stop some plans from helping the Implementer(s) achieve an end objective, they will certainly decrease the efficiency of achievement. Sometimes they will make a plan ineffective.

Ask Questions

73 One approach to excluding unnecessary sub-objectives involves asking questions about each particular sub-objective.

74 The following provides a basic and important question: What other objectives will the sub-objective help to achieve?’[10]

75 The following additional questionswill also prove useful: What does it (the sub-objective) aim to achieve? What will it probably achieve? What achievement would rate as the best or worst possible result from trying to achieve this objective?

76 Other questions might include – What would happen if we did not achieve it? How do you rate the importance of this sub-objective to the overall objective?

77 These questions aim to assess the necessity and degree of importance, of each sub-objective to the end objective. If Planners cannot relate them directly to the end objective they should relate them to some other objectives and try to work up and through the structure of objectives to find just what a particular (sub) objective will (probably) help to achieve. In many cases the ability to establish a help connection becomes difficult and a matter of opinion.

78 At this stage no procedure exists to ensure the exclusion of unnecessary sub-objectives, particularly for vague and intangible unstructured situations.

 

Quantification of Help Connection would make Decisions Easier

79 The difficulty of quantifying many of the (sub) objectives in business provides a major problem

80 Example. Jane, a Manager, wants to increase profits over the next two years. Her sub-objectives might include: (a) Buy a new machine, (b) Run a training course for Managers, (c) implement a new appraisal system, (d) Introduce new accounting methods, (e) Improve the organisation structure, (f) Get a new Production Manager, and so on. If she could measure the results of achieving these sub-objectives (i.e. how much effect each would have on profits) she would have an easy decision to make on which to include in her plan.

81 Techniques which help quantification (e.g. Discounted Cash Flow, Linear Programming, various statistical methods[11]) will help to eliminate unnecessary sub-objectives.

 

How can Planners ensure they choose the correct Sequence for all Sub-objectives?

82 The “right” sequence for sub-objectives will relate to –

(a) effectiveness – the wrong sequence may mean no-one can achieve the end objective.

(b) efficiency – different sequences will allow achievement of an end objective but with variations in the use of factors such as: time, money, men, materials, machines, etc.         


83 Example. Someone may want to finish a job quickly and not worry too much about cost. Another person may emphasise the completion of a job with least use of a particular machine or particular material - even if it means a greater use of time, money, or people. Different sequences will allow the achievement of an end objective with variations in speed and/or cost.

84 In some plans the sequence used does not prove particularly important in relation to achieving the end objective. This situation occurs where the sub-objectives have little relationship with one another, e.g. someone can do one activity while another person does something else or someone can try to achieve many different sub-objectives in almost any sequence.

85 However sometimes the achievement of one sub-objective depends on the achievement of another sub-objective (e.g. put on roof will depend on the erection of walls). In these cases bottlenecks occur – no-one can work on a number of other objectives until the completion of the bottleneck activity.

 

Network Analysis

86 A technique exists for a formal analysis of the sequence of sub-objectives. People use a number of terms to cover this topic: (a) Critical Path Planning (or Method) and (b) PERT (Programmed Evaluation Review Technique). Although a difference exists between these two approaches, both aim to achieve the best sequence in planning to achieve an objective.

87 These notes refer to the topic as “Critical Path Network Analysis” (”Network Analysis” for short) and only deal with the topic in very broad terms: however most people will find the underlying ideas of Network Analysis quite simple.

88 The technique involves constructing a network by doing the following:

(a) Break the objective (or project) into small parts (or sub- objectives)

89 Example. Building a house involves - buy material, lay foundations, build walls, engage painters, put on the roof, finish off the interior, and so on.

(b) Find which parts cannot start until the completion of other parts.

90 Example. No one can add a roof before building a wall, but finishing off some of the interior may not have to wait until someone puts on the roof.             

(c) Put down the sequence relationships between the parts in a form of a networkso that activities on the right of the network cannot start before the completion of jobs on the left – provided both parts connect together (by a circle) which shows the dependence of the right-hand activity on the left-hand one. This diagram sets out the activities in a sequence which shows inevitable dependency relationships and allows Planners to locate bottlenecks.

91 Example. The following diagram would indicate that job or sub-objective D cannot start until the completion of all of A, B, and C; and E and F cannot start until someone finishes D; but E and F do not depend on one another, Activity “D” shows a bottleneck.

92 Most network analyses use lines and circles: a line indicates an activity and a circle an event (i.e. the start or finish of an activity) – Hence the network analysis of the above would appear as under –

93 Planners estimate (or receive estimates of) the time to complete each part or activity and record on the diagram. This information allows the identification of the critical path: the path between the first and last event of a project which takes the longest time – i.e. the “bottleneck” path.

94 For the objective of preparing an advertising brochure for a particular product, the network might look as follows:

 

                     

95 An estimate of the time (in days) added to the network gives the following:

96 The critical path of seven days involves events 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. If the writing of copy (2-4) took three days, the critical path of eight days would go through events 1, 2, 4, and 5

97 In the former case (where the critical path goes through 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) Dick, a Manager, could complete the brochure earlier if he could reduce the time spent on photography (2-3) and printing (4-5) If having the brochure one day earlier would save the organisation involved $100 and it would cost $20 for the photographer and his printing staff to work overtime, Dick could fairly easily gain $80.

98 By looking at the sequence of sub-objectives and finding the bottleneck or critical path, Managers can more easily see where they should give attention to reduce the time taken to do a job and/or make best use of available equipment, people, etc.

99 More complex projects (e.g. launching a new product or building a multi-storey building) require more complex networks. However the approach remains the same. With more complex networks a computer will help save time. Once the Computer has the network in its “memory”, Planners can try out various changes in times to complete various activities and see what effect it has on the overall time to complete the whole objective

100 In summary a Network Analysis provides a systematic way of finding out: (a) how long an objective will take to achieve, (b) the bottlenecks or critical path, and (c) if any ways exist to reduce bottlenecks to achieve the final objective more quickly.[12]
The Right Time to complete Each Sub-Objective

101 To find out the time for the completion of each sub-objective, Planners should estimate the time each sub-objective will take to achieve.

102 Any estimate will have some degree of uncertainty and wide variations exist in some estimates – especially where the plan includes sub- objectives relatively new to the Planner and/or the Organisation concerned.

03 Once Planners know the time to achieve each sub-objective they can determine the critical path. However correct selection of the critical path depends on the accuracy of the time estimate for the critical-path and near-critical-path activities.

104 A Network Analysis may show that a person (or an Organisation) cannot achieve the objective in the time and/or cost desired. This fact may lead to someone abandoning the objective or altering it substantially. Sometimes a Manager will allocate more resources to achieving various sub-objectives faster (or with a different cost). Planning by this approach and adjustments to the allocation of resources allows Managers to achieve objectives which they would never have achieved if they had not carried out detailed planning.

105 However to determine the completion time for each sub-objective, Planners must know the completion time for the end objective. Sometimes the overall (end) objective may not state the time to finish. Managers should (usually) ensure objectives include a completion time.

 

The Right People to achieve each Sub-Objective

106 Once someone has identified a part objective someone has to agree to try to achieve it. All too often people choose a sub-objective but do not decide who will try to achieve it. This situation often happens in Committees. The group decides to do something but not who will do it,

107 In general, an effective plan should determine the person (or persons) who will try to achieve each sub-objective OR provide someone to make this decision.

 

The Right Resources to achieve each Sub-Objective

108 The achievement of a sub-objective often involves equipment and materials and they become important factors in planning. In such situations the choice of wrong resources will make a plan ineffective.

109 However sometimes people can achieve objectives with little else except their own abilities.

Resources include Information

110 Major objectives usually involve a number of management levels and each management level probably requires a different type, and amount, of information. Sometimes people cannot achieve an objective if they do not have certain information.

111 Example. The whereabouts of equipment, keys, basic materials, papers; the combination of a safe.

112 In other cases the information only rates as useful, i.e. it will help people to achieve the objective by giving them a better understanding of the end objective and/or encouraging them to have more interest in achieving the part objective.               

113 Examples. The reason (next higher-level objective) for achieving a particular objective. Why did the Boss choose me to do the job? What will happen if we do not achieve the objective?

 

The Right Place to achieve each Sub-Objective

114 Sometimes Planners should consider just when they need to have certain elements of their plan in the one place.

115 Example. The Resources (equipment machine, raw material) and the Person to use them will have to come together in the one place and at the same time.

 

Alternative Plans

116 Should Planners plan for the occurrence of something which will prevent the achievement of some, or all, sub-objectives? Where a plan deals with a particularly important end objective Planners should spend time deciding emergency courses of action

117 If everything goes well, the Planners will have wasted such planning time. However, where failure involves a high cost, the additional cost of planning for other courses of action will prove worthwhile. The additional planning represents an insurance cost: the people concerned have a high probability of losing a little to ensure they do not lose a lot.

 

Planning in a broader, long-term Context

118 A plan may allow achievement of the overall objective; however where this objective (or a similar objective) will probably occur again, planning in more detail may give advantages which will help achieve (more efficiently) other similar objectives in the future. Planners may record the plan in a form (e.g. written) and with sufficient detail to help plan better the next time a similar objective occurs. Planners should use a form which will make it easy to add amendments and further information to their plan.

119 Example, Kate, an Architect, designs an office block. She could just record her ideas for the offices under consideration, However she might take extra trouble and record her ideas under various headings such as placement of phone and other service connections, the size of openings for furniture and equipment to go into buildings, angle of window protection in relation to location of offices and angle of the sun’s rays. She might record her plan in writing in various sections and leave enough space for additions and comments on her plan as she implements her ideas. She might include in her plan: check the reactions of building’s tenants to the building (say) one month and six months after they take up residence.               

120 Some plans for moving offices include in the plan that each person involved will record in writing where the plan goes wrong, the factors forgotten, the annoyances which occur – and send to one person who will collate and use it to improve the plan for the next removal operation.

 

Aids to reviewing a Plan

121 Once a plan exists, Planners and/or Users may want to review it for effectiveness and efficiency. The following approaches should help. However they duplicate some of the methods for ensuring a Plan has not left out any part objectives.

122 Look at a Plan from another person’s viewpoint- preferably the people involved in carrying out the plan and/or people inevitably involved in the plan.

123 Example. Look at a marketing plan from the viewpoint of the Consumers and Distributors (if any exist). Look at a plan to launch a new product on the market, advertise it, sell it to grocers, etc. - from the viewpoint of the Grocers receiving the plan and the Consumers receiving the product.

124 Ask the question: “How would I like to try to implement this plan? It should help a Reviewer to consider a plan.

125 Get another person to review critically the plan. Someone closely involved in the situationor a similar situation would have a greater knowledge of the situation. Another approach involves using someone completely outside the situationsince they might possibly “see the wood as well as the trees”. In the case of the marketing plan for a food product through supermarkets a review by a supermarket Manager or a “typical” Customer may prove very helpful.

126 Put the Plan aside and review it later. Planners may feel very relieved to have finished the plan. Many will want to forget the plan and do not feel inclined to review it at that stage. A fresh approach after several hours or days may provide something close to a “fresh mind” on the subject.

127 Compare a Plan for a Similar Objective with the Plan. This approach amounts to showing the plan to another Planner with experience in a similar situation.

128 Look at each sub-objective by itself – in the reverse order to the plan. This approach means starting at the end of a sequence of sub-objectives and working towards the beginning. This method provides another way of obtaining a different look at a plan.                 

 

How much help do Planning Techniques give Planners?

129 These notes only offer limited help to Planners. Carrying out some procedures. including the use of questions, will give some help but they will not guarantee to help find unthought-of part-objectives. A major part of the effectiveness of plans will still depend on the intelligence, experience, and planning skills of Planners.

130 However most people can plan better if they give more attention to planning. A systematic approach (as outlined in these notes) should help many people plan better – especially inexperienced Planners.

131 Perhaps the greatest single factor involves altering people’s attitude: systematic thinking – before doing- will usually make the doing effective and more efficient.                                   


Summary

132 The elements in a plan consist of (a) the end objective and (b) other objectives that someone believes will help to achieve the end objective (=Sub Objectives).

133 The plan may include: (a) whenthe Planner wants some or all of the sub-objectives started, completed, and the time someone should take to achieve them, (b) the sequence for starting and/or finishing some or all of the sub-objectives, (c) the people to achieve the sub objectives, (d) the resources (other than people involved in each sub- objective (e.g. machines, material), (e) the place to achieve the sub-objectives.

134 The elements of a Plan merely expand on the definition of a Plan and point out two essential elements and some non-essential elements. An examination of an effective plan – as compared with just a plan may provide more assistance to Planners since it will give them a standard for which to aim. An effective plan will contain the following elements: (a) all Part Objectives, (b) no unnecessary Sub Objectives, (c) the correct sequence for all Sub Objectives, (d) the right time to complete the Sub Objectives, (e) the right time to achieve each Sub Objective, (f) the right resources (other than people) to achieve each Sub—Objective, (g) the right place to achieve each Sub Objective.

135 Part Objectives describe Sub-Objectives that, if achieved, willhelp to achieve the next higher-level objective. If a Part Objective exists which will help to achieve a next higher-level objective a plan cannot rate as effective if it leaves out such a Part Objective.

136 The inclusion of a few unnecessary Sub-Objectives may not stop the achievement of an end objective i.e. affect the effectiveness of a plan. However in some plans, where the structure of the situation does not exist so clearly (e.g. an end objective concerning changing attitudes), a number of unnecessary Sub-objectives may confuse people using the plan so that they give too much attention to achieving some unnecessary Sub-Objectives and too little attention to others which may rate as essential. Because of this misallocation of effort the people may not achieve the end objective.

137 A Plan may include all Part Objectives (and no unnecessary Sub Objectives) but the sequence of attempting some, or all, of the Part Objective may mean the difference between achieving, or not achieving, the end objective.

138 An objective may include a time factor. However, because some Planners leave out time elements in their Sub-Objectives, this element deserves separate identification. In some plans the end objective includes a time factor for completion and/or duration time to limit the amount of time spent on trying to achieve the objective. If the Plan does not call for the achievement of some, or all, of the sub objectives by a certain time, the plan (if followed) may not ensure achievement of the end objective.         

139 Eventually someone will have to decide who will try to achieve each (sub) objective. An effective plan will identify people who will achieve the Sub-Objectives which involve people. Thus the people will (a) have the capacity to achieve the objective and (b) will try to achieve it (if asked). A Plan will not help to achieve the end objective if it (a) leaves out vital resources or (b) includes resources (machines, materials) which do not allow the achievement of other Sub-Objectives and/or the end objective. A Plan which specifies wrong places to carry out Sub-Objectives will also prove ineffective.

140 Plans may involve other objectives than those mentioned above, such as: (a) Decide how to communicate different instructions to the people who have to achieve the sub-objectives, (b) Decide When, How, Where and What to check, (c) Decide Who to use to check, (d) Find out attitude of people involved to the objectives they have to check. Plans may also include other plans in case something goes wrong. The above list of other elements suggests that an almost infinite number of Sub Objectives exist for many plans. The question of identifying the elements of an effective plan begins to look like the problem of determining the length of a piece of string.

141 The necessity to include all Part Objectives to obtain an effective plan involves asking the question: How do Planners ensure they do not leave out any Part-objectives.

142 Planners should realise they have a good chance of finding more possibilities than they first thought. This idea provides an incentive to keep looking for Part-Objectives. If Planners make a distinction between the obtaining of ideas and evaluation of them, they will have more chance of finding additional possible Sub- Objectives, since they will avoid moving too quickly into the “choose-between-objectives” part of Planning. This distinction helps particularly in any planning by group discussions. If people evaluate possible Sub-Objectives immediately after their suggestion and rate some as unsuitable then the individual who contributed to the Sub-Objective will tend to stop searching for others. Thus they will avoid having someone oppose or criticise their suggestion. In addition Planners should use the following ideas – (a) Use Check Lists (both specific and general e.g. Kipling’s Six Serving Men, (b) Aim to improve the Check Lists, (c) Develop Check Lists by using the parts of (i) some process and (ii) its end result, (d) Use Questions (e.g. logical opposites and deferment types, (e) Record objectives in a logical and systematic manner, (f) Use another person, preferably someone who has made a similar plan – but a fresh mind without relevant experience can help to find missing part objectives. (g) Use a trial run (including simulation and role playing)

143 To exclude unnecessary sub-objectivesPlanners should: (a) Ask Questions (what next higher-level objective will this objective help to achieve?) to assess the necessity, and degree of importance, of each sub-objective to the end objective; (b) Quantify the help connection, where possible.         

144 To help choose the correct sequence for sub-objectivesPlanners should look for appropriate situations to use Critical Path Network Analysis – (a method that encourages a logical and formal analysis of which objectives Implementers must achieve before they can try to achieve others. Network Analysis provides a systematic way of finding out (a) how long an objective will take to achieve, (b) the bottlenecks or critical path and (c) if any ways exist to reduce bottlenecks to achieve the final objective more quickly.

145 Network Analysis will help to find out the correct time to complete each Sub-Objective. Planners must know the completion time for the overall objective. Sometimes the overall end objective may not state the time to finish. Managers should (usually) ensure objectives include a time for completion.

146 An effective plan should determine the person (or persons) who will try to achieve each sub-objective or provide for the making of such a decision.

147 Planners will also have to ensure their plan includes the right resources and remember that resources include information. Here again a consideration of each sub-objective in a systematic way should help. The same point applies to ensuring the plan identifies the right place to carry out each sub-objective.

148 Where Planners deal with a particularly important end objective spending time on deciding emergency courses of action may prove worthwhile. The additional planning represents an insurance cost: the people concerned have a high probability of “losing” a little to ensure they do not lose a little to ensure they do not lose a lot.

149 A Plan may allow achievement of the overall objective; however where this objective (or a similar objective) will probably occur again, planning in more detail may give advantages which will help achieve, more efficiently, other similar objectives in the future,

150 Aids to reviewing a finished plan include: (a) Look at a plan from another person’s viewpoint, (b) Ask the question: “How would I like this plan if someone asked me to implement it”? (c) Get another person to review critically the plan, someone closely involved and/or someone completely outside the situation, (d) Put the Plan aside and review it later, (e) Compare the Plan for a similar objective with the plan, (f) Look at each sub-objective by itself – in the reverse order to the plan.

151 Those notes only offer limited help to Planners. However most people will plan better if they give more attention to planning. A systematic approach (as outlined in these notes) should help most Planners to improve their planning. Perhaps the greatest single factor involves altering people’s attitude: systematic thinking, before doing, will usually make the doing more effective and more efficient.


[1] These notes do not deal with the correctness or “goodness” of an end objective. However effective planning for the wrong (or a useless) end objective regularly occurs in all organisations. Thus someone should ask: Have we selected the right (or a wise) end objective? Another way of looking at this problem involves using the objective “Decide if our present end objective aims to help solve the real problem.” This objective amounts to looking at what higher-level end objective(s), the end objective under discussion aims to achieve. In effect the Planner has another end objective which someone (else) should have achieved before planning commenced for the end objective. The notes on “Objectives” discuss how to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ objectives.

[2] The right completion time will depend on choosing the right starting time in conjunction with  the right duration time

[3] These five interrogative pronouns do not include the sixth – “why”. The “why” refers to the next-higher-level objective i.e. the reason for trying to achieve the end objective of the plan.

[4] The notes on “objectives” explain Part Objectives in more detail.

[5] The notes on “Classification for Objectives” discuss in detail that any objective will include an activity factor and may include a time factor

[6] Some people know these pronouns as “Kipling’s six serving men” because of Kipling’s verse – “I had six honest serving men, they taught me all I knew. Their names are what and where and when, and how and why and who”.

[7] See the notes on “Drawing Decision Trees” for more details.

[8] Later sections of these notes explain Critical Path Networks briefly. The notes on”Planning and Control by Network Analysis” give an extensive treatment of this subject.

[9] This example represents a typical queuing problem. The above only gives a broad outline of the situation.

[10] Later sections of the notes expand this question into – “What next-higher-level objective does this objective aim to help?

[11] These notes do not attempt to explain these terms. The notes “Introduction to Operational Research” give more information.

[12] The notes on “Planning and Control by Network Analysis” provide more details on this whole topic.

How to upset your Subordinate when setting Objectves

1 Many ways exist for Managers to upset one or more of their Subordinates – without appreciating that they have done so.

      2 Example (a) A Manager wants a Subordinate to achieve some quantitative objectives and/or a budget figure for the coming period.

3 Many managers seem to believe they can force people to accept a particular objective.

4 Example. A Manager believes that a Subordinate should try to make (or sell) 10,000 widgets in the next year.

5 However, many Managers fail to realise that sometimes Subordinates have quite a different viewpoint from their Managers about particular objectives, What a Manager classifies as reasonable, a Subordinate can classify as quite Unreasonable.

6 Some Managers do not try to find out the attitude of a Subordinate to a particular objective. Thus they never realise that they should try to alter the Subordinate’s attitude to the objective.

No Reason given for changing an Objective

7 Often Managers will change an objective because a higher-level Manager tells them to do so. Sometimes such a Manager gives no reason and/or evidence to support the change and the Subordinate’s Manager gives no reason to the Subordinate. This type of behaviour usually upsets Subordinates.

      8 Example. Mark (a Manager) and his Subordinate (Stan) agree on a sales figure for next year. The Manager submits it to a higher Manager (e.g. the General Manager) who says – “unsuitable - increase everything by l0 %. This order goes down the line and Managers force Subordinates to set a l0%-higher sales figure.

11 If the Subordinate fails to achieve a standard (e.g. a sales figure) the Manager complains about the Subordinate’s behaviour and even punishes the Subordinate. Thus, sometimes a Manager evaluates the Subordinate on the basis of a standard which the Subordinate never accepted. And the Manager’s “punishing” behaviour upsets the Subordinate even more.

12 The following section suggests some objectives which should help Managers avoid the above errors.

How to set Objectives - in commuication with a Subordinate

13 The following approach has the objective – persuade a Subordinate to set a realistic objective (e.g. budgeted sales)

14 Get Subordinate to tell you his/her real belief about what his/her Section can achieve.

15 Get Subordinate to set the objectives independently.

16 Set independently the objective you consider appropriate for the Subordinate’s section.

17 Compare the two independently-set objectives.

Possible Relationships

18 A comparison of a Manager’s objective with the Subordinate’s objectives will give three broad possibilities –

     (a) The figures rate as sufficiently close for the Manager to accept the Subordinate’s suggestion

     (b) The Manager has a (significantly) higher figure.

    (c) The Manager has a (significantly) lower figure

19 The following section discusses these three sections in more detail.

 The figures of the Manager and the Subordinate agree

20 This situation requires no further attention: the Subordinates have set an objective that they rate as realistic – unless they have lied.

 A Manager has a Significantly-Lower Figure than the Subordinate

21 Where this situation occurs, the following objectives provide useful approaches for considering the differences.

22 Discuss the Subordinate’s basis for setting his/her objective.

23 Discuss the Manager’s basis for setting his/her objective.

24 Establish the evidence used – on which the Manager and the Subordinate – (a) agree (b) disagree and (c) feel unsure about.

25 Evaluate the accuracy of the evidence discussed.

26 Evaluate the reasonableness of the objectives in the light of the evidence discussed.

27 Decide the Subordinate’s objective rates as unreasonable.

(a) Let it stand and use a lower figure as a basis for the planning input[1] of other people.

(b) Let it stand and watch carefully the amount of progress achieved towards the objective.

(c) Try to persuade the Subordinate to reduce the objective.

28 Decide the Subordinate’s objective rates as reasonable- Use the Subordinate’s figures.

A Manager has a Significantly Higher Figure than the Subordinate

29 Discuss the Subordinate’s basis for setting his/her objective.

30 Discuss the Manager’s basis for setting his/her objective.

31 Compare the Manager’s evidence with the Subordinate’s evidence.

32 Discuss the evidence of the Manager and the Subordinate.

33 Evaluate the accuracy of the evidence discussed. Look for common agreement within the evidence.

34 Evaluate the reasonableness of the objective in the light of the evidence obtained.

35 Decide the Subordinate’s objective rates as reasonable – Accept.

36 Decide the Subordinate’s objective rates as reasonable.

     (a) Leave as is – but use higher figure as a basis for the plan- fling input of their people.

     (b) Leave as is and watch carefully the amount of progress achieved toward the objective.

     (c) Try to persuade Subordinate to increase the objective.

What upsets a Subordinate?

37 Subordinates will tend to feel upset where Managers insist they change their objective:

(a) without discussion

     (b) without providing any specific evidence other than a higher-level authority wants/demands it.

Conclusion

38 Managers who arrange for someone to achieve a particular objective should feel confident that this person will accept the objective as reasonable for him/her to try to achieve.

39 If the objective achievement depends on having someone with a favourable attitude towards the objective, Managers should consider this point when deciding who to ask to achieve the objective

40 In such an important objective as the quantitative objectives for the whole or a major part of a person’s position, these points deserve special attention.

 


[1] The term planning input refers to information which other people use to make decisions/plans e.g. a sales figure. A Production Planner would use a sales figure as one basis for deciding how much raw material to buy, how many factory operators to engage.

Six Important Objectives to help Planning

1 Decide the End Objective.

2 Decide the Next Higher-Level Objective the End Objective aims to help achieve..

3 Pause -  Find any Part Objective left out

4 Decide the sequence for doing the Sub-Objectives.

5 Determine the Bottleneck or Critical Path activities.

6 Plan what Checking activities to carry out. Decide -  when and on what, and where, to make our first and later checks.

Reduce the Ambiguity of “Agreement in Principle

Introduction

1 Many Organisations make decisions that refer to an “agreement in principle”.

2 Examples. We support an investigation in principle. In principle, we believe that people should have to do ………………………..

3 However what does the phrase “agreement in principle” actually mean? How does agreement in principle differ from just plain agreement?

What does “In Principle” mean?

4 In general, “Agreement in principle” reduces a decision’s area or content. Otherwise people would just decide to support something or do something – without using “in principle”.

5 Almost certainly agreement (in total) must differ from agreement in principle. If not, why do people use the phrase?

6 Probably where a group of people cannot obtain agreement they tend to seek agreement in principle. This behaviour suggests that agreement in principle does not equal agreement.

7 But – will one person expect agreement in principle to mean one thing and other people expect it to mean something different? The phrase allows people to say that they only agreed to something “in principle”. Now they can oppose it because some particular point does not fit the “in principle” condition. Thus the phrase can cause disagreements?

8 Probably people would communicate better and more productively if everyone stopped using the phrase “agreement in principle”?

Some Possible Meanings and Better Approaches

9 The left-hand column of this section shows some possible meanings of “in principle”. The right-hand column suggests some better approaches – instead of using “in principle”.

Possible    Meanings

Better    Approaches

10 Happy to discuss and/or consider and/or investigate the proposal further and/or investigate the proposal 

State the decision in terms of the real meaning of the agreement. Example “I agree that people should continue to discuss/consider/investigate further this
matter”.

11 More time needed by some people to think about the problem. State – “We all agree except for the following people who need more time to think
about the decision.
12 Some reservation/ doubt exists, i.e., people tend to agree but have not gained agreement on some issues.

State (a) the aspects on which they agree  and (b) the aspects on which agreement  does not exist.

Examples. (a) We agree to the decision provided we can overcome our reservations (b) We approve of the idea provided Group X does not oppose it. (c) I agree but only if it does not mean spending too much money (say $100,000) and too many re source (say 500 person hours). (d) I agree but I believe it will prove impractical I fear that once we get down to the details it will prove too difficult to achieve. (e) I agree but I have some doubts about its importance in relation to a lot of other objectives which the group should try to achieve. I have no time to make the comparisons but I still have fears.

13 A desire not to state the fears that exist about agreeing. 

We all agree except that the following people have some fears that they prefer not to state at this time… However, this approach will notwork if the people do not want others to identify them as having fears.

14 Only have to obtain agreement on minor matters.

We agree with the idea in general but we still cannot agree on the following matters which we rate as minor …………………………..

15 Want to make an uncleardecision 

Rarely will Decision Makers want to state they want to make an unclear decision. Since “in principle” does not have a clear meaning, it will prove appropriate to use in this situation.

Probability of Agreeing - in Full – in the Future

12 If people agree in principle, what probability exists that they will agree (or disagree) at a future meeting?

13 Presumably if someone disagrees then they vote against both agreement and agreement in principle. Thus, perhaps anyone who votes for agreement in principle has a (much) greater chance of eventually agreeing than those who oppose an idea.

14 It would prove interesting to find out how many groups agree in principle about something and eventually disagree about it.

 

 

Comments on Possible Meanings and their Implications

Happy to discuss and/or consider and/or investigate it further

15 If many people have this opinion it could lead other people to make a wrong interpretation. Other people might feel that the group only has to gain agreement on minor points whereas these people have only really indicated that they will listen to further discussion on the issue.

16 Thus it means only that we know we do not want to oppose the decision at this time.

 The Use of “In Principle” in Decisions

What should wise decision makers do?

17 People who want to think in more detail about their decisions and/or record them in clearer terms will not use “in principle”

18 Once people stop using this term, it forces them to think more about just what they object to in the decision and/or under what conditions they would vote against the decision (or vote for it)    

Summary

19 Agreement in principle can have different meanings to different people. Usually it does not mean agreement to do something or to approve of a particular idea. Usually it shows that people do not actually disagree – with their present knowledge of the situation. However they vote for something “in principle” when they (a) will allow further discussion and/or investigation, (b) need more time to think about the topic, (c) have some doubts about agreeing, (d) do not want to state openly their fears about the decision, and (e) disagree on minor matters.

 20 From the viewpoint of more accurate and better information to other people, people should stop the use of “agreement in principle”. They should state with which factors they agree – and disagree.

 21 People should know just what aspects they would like to think about further – before deciding to agree (or disagree).

Decision Making – Some Important Terms

Introduction
1 These notes will prove useful for handing out to a group to provide a basis for discussing the meaning of some important terms related to Decision Making.

Some Important Terms

2 Decision Making -a (conscious) thinking process aimed at choosing one or more things.

3 Decision – the result of choosing one or more things.

4 A Decision does not necessarily involve an objective.

5 Planning – a conscious thinking activity aimed at setting objectives.

6 Objectives – a future result which someone believes someone should try to achieve.

7 Someone may choose something which does not rate as an objective.

8 Example. Which of these two pictures do you like best? (Present). Which team played the better football? (Past). Think of a number.

9 Decisions between objectives rates as decision making.

10 Objective setting – a (conscious) thinking process aimed at choosing one or more objectives.

11 Objective Setting rates as one part of planning (the second stage). This classification assumes that trying to find objectives does rate as objective setting.

12 However someone could argue that “finding” (objectives) does not really differ from “choosing”. On the other hand “trying to find” seems different from ‘trying to choose”, since the latter seems to imply the identification of at least one objective available as a choice.

Choosing between Obvjectives


Introduction

1 Planning to achieve an objective involves the two stages of: (a) finding (sub) objectives and (b) choosing between these (sub) objectives. These notes deal with the second stage.

2 All Managers face the problem of deciding which objectives they will try to achieve in a future time period (say) six months or one or two years.

3 Usually all the objectives they “find” and tentatively choose have some possibility of helping to achieve such overall continuous objectives as – Increase the return on investment and/or – Increase return on total assets.

4 However Managers must choose between objectives (i.e. discard some) because they have limited resources – they do not have all the money, machines, people, etc. they would like to have.

5 It proves very difficult to know just how much help achieving particular sub-objectives will give to achieving higher-level objectives.

6 Example. I know our Managers need training in how to select better staff but – (a) How much improvement can I expect from a five-day course? and (b) Will this course improvement really get the Managers to select much more wisely?

 Rating Objectives  

7 The following list provides a classification to use in considering objectives and trying to decide an order of importance.

8 The classes do not rate as necessarily mutually exclusive.

9 In rating an objective – if in doubt – use the rating and put one or two “? “s after the rating letters – to indicate the degree of doubt.

10 Label each objective with one or more of the following ratings. (If Readers think of another useful rating class, record and use it.)

(a) TL – Top Level and Too Broad NOT to prove worthwhile – but it does not provide a choice point (e.g. Encourage Marketing in the organisation; help Managers perform better). “Almost” all sub-objectives will help, at least, a little to achieve these class of worthwhile objectives.

(b) EO – Essential Objective i.e. we achieve this objective (e.g. produce goods) at the moment and we must keep doing so, unless we alter the present operations significantly. However we have not defined clearly the level of achievement (e.g. how many goods should we produce and with what degree of profitability)

(c) IW – Internal Working. This objective relates to the internal working of the Organisation and achievement or non-achievement will not directly affect the outside public. However this rating does necessarily suggest a low priority – some internal objectives will help to achieve an external objective and some will play a major role in doing so.

(d) NP - Neat Package an objective which “sits” by itself quite clearly and affects few other objectives. This class of objective has the following advantages:

(i) Failure to achieve or an achievement which “takes” a long time will not directly affect the achievement of other objectives.

(ii) Probably easier to ask a special resource (e.g. outside Consultants) to try to achieve this type of objective. However this point depends on the “content” of the objective.

(e) ME – Minor Effort only to this objective – possible because: (a) it only arises on less than one or two occasions in a year (e.g. run a successful Annual Meeting of Share Holders) and/or (b) even if achieved, it will not have a significant effect on the Organisation’s progress.

(f) SO – Section Only i.e. working toward this objective will (tend to) help only one or a few Sections of the overall organisation.

(g) IR – Insufficient Resources at present to have much chance of achieving it (i.e. arrange for each Divisional Manager to have an Assistant who can step into the Divisional Manager’s job and perform competently)

(h) TN – Too Hard at present (i.e. defer until we have achieved other things.

(i) DF – Defer attempting this objective until we achieve ……………………………  (specify one or more other objectives)

(j) AS – Achieved Sufficiently i.e. we do (or have done) these things well enough at this stage. Make this rating after considering what other objectives we should try to achieve.

Another approach to use in selecting Objectives

11 Identify two objectives on about the same level of the hierarchy[1] (e.g. about the same number of steps (= objectives) from the end (top) Objective)

12 State which you think the more important objectives to try to achieve at this time.

13 Do this choosing between many different pairs of objectives.

14 Relate the common classification numbers to each other and so produce a list in priority.

 


[1] This method needs the arrangement of the objectives- that someone has classified – into a Hierarchy of Objectives.