Stretch goals require new way of doing business

Bob Behn, Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government

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When your agency sets “stretch goals” — the big goals that require more than just extra effort — they’ll likely need to develop and implement a strategy to achieve them.

Bob Behn, a lecturer at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, chairs the executive education program. He joined In Depth with Francis Rose to discuss going for the big goals.

“A ‘stretch target’ is one that the organization cannot achieve simply by working a little harder or a little smarter,” Behn wrote in his “Performance Leadership Report,”. “To achieve a stretch target, people have to invent new strategies, new incentives — entirely new ways of achieving their purpose.”

The efforts by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to end — as opposed to reduce — veterans’ homelessness by the end of 2015 is an example of a stretch goal with a true performance target, Behn said. That is, it includes a goal and a date as two examples of federal leaders setting true performance targets

To subscribe to Behn’s “Performance Leadership Report, click here.


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