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Peter Drucker on how to use objectives

A common theme in entrepreneurship is self-management, and key to self-management is setting objectives. Of course, entrepreneurs must be able manage themselves effectively before being able to mange others. Here’s some useful advice from Peter Drucker, the consultant’s consultant, on objectives (courtesy of our friends at Priority Management [1], the experts in productivity and time management training.

HOW TO USE OBJECTIVES by Dr. Peter Drucker

Objectives are not fate; they are direction. If objectives are only good intentions, they are worthless. They must degenerate into work. And work is always specific, always has — or should have a clear, unambiguous, measurable results, a deadline, and a specific assignment of accountability.

But objectives that become a straitjacket do harm. Objectives are always based on expectations. And expectations are, at best, informed guesses. The world does not stand still. The proper way to use objectives is the way an airline uses schedules and flight plans. The schedule provides for the 9 am flight from Los Angeles to get to Boston by 5 pm. But if there is a blizzard in Boston that day, the plane will land in Pittsburgh instead and wait out the storm. The flight plan provides for flying at thirty thousand feet and for flying over Denver and Chicago. But if the pilot encounters turbulence or strong headwinds, he will ask flight control for permission to go up another five thousand feet and to take the Minneapolis-Montreal route.

No flight is ever operated without a schedule and flight plan. Any change is immediately fed back to produce a new schedule and flight plan. Objectives are not fate; they are direction. They are not commands; they are commitments. They do not determine the future; they are meant to mobilize the resources and energies of the business for the making of the future.

You can see more at http://www.prioritymanagement.com/newsletter/2014_04/objectives-0414.php [2]