Re: Deming on setting Goals

Stephen Robbins (
Fri, 18 Nov 1994 02:28:19 EST5EDT

> > > [A balanced budget actually
> > > sets a numeric goal, which Deming has long warned against.]
> > >
> >
> > Hi Stever. Could you cite a reference, or explain why, Deming
> > against this? (I don't doubt you, I am just curious.)

Deming says a numeric goal is meaningless in terms of changing
behavior. "This year our goal is to increase sales by 10%."
Deming's points out that if you knew how to do that, then you would
have done it last year. What is the reason you think you can
increase sales by 10%? Why 10%, and not 7% or 11% or 12%?

He says that any purely numeric goal must be accompanied by a
description of HOW that goal is to be reached, in systemic terms.
"This year, we will increase our number of customer contacts by
ignoring all headquarters paperwork requirements and using the time
we save to scout new customers."

Specific numeric goals also produce all kinds of wierd behavior, as
people (a) get lax after reaching a goal, or (b) screw around with
the system to meet the numbers, possibly at the expense of larger
systemic goals.

- Stever

Stever Robbins
Accept no substitutes! PGP key available upon request
"You're only young once, but you can be immature forever."