Be careful what you wish for…
Setting targets can have all sorts of unintended consequences.
Just look at the recent report on doctors. Publishing ‘death rates’ on operations means some doctors avoid operating on really sick people. Just in case they die…. and it affects their figures.
Look at the police. Some forces have massively reduced crime rates by recording crimes as…wait for it… ‘no crimes’.
And look at schools. Set a league table based on achieving Level 4 and you’ll see all the effort going to those who might get Level 4. Don’t worry about the “definitely wills” and “definitely wont’s”
Unintended consequence should be a concern in business too.
Imagine you put me in charge of your company for 6 months and gave me one target.
Here’s some things I’d do.
Stop training staff
Stop all maintenance and repair
Slash spending on customer service to the minimum
Slash the marketing budget
Stop all new product development
Sack the credit controller
You get the idea. Profit would be sky high. I’d get a big fat bonus.
The next six months might be more of a challenge (I’m not bothered though – I’m off to improve profit somewhere else)
Setting targets is important. Vital even. But you must constantly monitor your targets for unintended consequence.
And be careful what you wish for.
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