Demos and Trials

Goal-based business management and collaboration software - is it more than an aspiration?


Although a majority of people in management engage in goal setting and goal planning every year, using goals to manage people and the business proves to be a frustrating aspiration for many.  PST's research suggests that while aspiring to use a goal-based approach at work, most executives and managers in effect still use a collection of information management tools that have been around for at least 5,000 years, including: 

  • Memory to get organized and retrieve information, and keep alerted as to what needs to happen.
  • Meetings and checking in, whether on the phone, in the hallway or in a conference room as a vehicle for getting status updates and uncovering areas that need attention.
  • Writing things down… in lists.  e.g. management may have switched from a yellow pad to a Word document or Excel spreadsheet, but essentially are still copying what the Egyptians had available in their written language and parchment paper.

PST's research has consistently found the following issues must be addressed, if goal-based software is to avoid becoming aspiration software within the first six months of use in a typical organization:

  1. The goal-based process has to be driven from on top.  96% of the world does not regularly use goals and action plans to organize their effort. Let’s be candid, most of the world is not naturally inclined to practice a high performance discipline such as goal management.  A significant proportion of the population will only practice this discipline if actively led and held accountable by leadership that models and mandates the use of high performance technology.   Bottom line: this is a new process for most, not a grass-roots process, and has to have the strong support of a driver.  Without that support, the shift to managing by goals will be resisted as "requiring too much time or effort."

  2. Less is more. The human brain doesn’t easily focus on more than three objectives at time, six at a maximum. Both focus and accountability are supported by limiting focus to three goals or objectives at any one time.  Most organizations attempt to track too many goals to start, and inadvertently turn their goal list into one more to-do list.

[for more information on this topic click here to read PST's white paper on using a goal-based system as a primary management tool]


PST tools provide a technology for structuring work around goals, action plans and results.   Most of the organizations we work with around the world are task and urgency based, not goal and plan-based in how they approach and deliver their work product.  Invariably, shifting to a goal-based approach to work includes an embedded change process to improve performance and measurable results as noted above.  That continues to this day in-spite of numerous studies demonstrating that using goal setting, planning and execution improves performance.  PST's software and coaching services are designed to support executives and managers in focusing directly on outcomes and the bottom line, e.g. "What do you want to happen or where do you want to go?"  Then build a plan to get there, and work (track) the plan.

Before exploring software options, take a moment to review what research has had to say about using goals as a vehicle for managing work.

Based upon:  A Review of Research on the Application of Goal Setting in Organizations. 
A analysis of 27 studies in different organizations spanning more than 10 years and focused upon:

#1 Using Goals does Improve Performance

Production is significantly higher when work is structured around goals, versus when it is not. Both quantity and quality show improvement when using goals with quantity showing the largest gains.

#2 Goals, Performance and Managers

Managers who set goals for their reports and supervise/give feedback on the outcome, generate significantly higher productivity than managers who supervise, but do not set goals, or set goals but don’t provide feedback.

#3 Goals, Performance and Top Management

Planning and goal setting is strongly correlated with improved performance and increased commitment by employees, but only when given encouragement and support by top management!  Lack of involvement by top management is defined as a lack of personal involvement in driving the goal setting process down the organization.

#4 Goals, Specificity and Individual Performance

Being specific about setting goals, only increases performance for individuals who have high achievement needs.

#5 Goals and Self Fulfilling Prophecy

People that have a track record of success, respond to goals with increased performance, while people who have a history of more losses than wins do not have such an increase. What you believe about yourself comes true.

PST Bares the Truth

Straight talk to managers shopping for performance management software -  the myths and the reality.


*     What most managers are secretly
wondering and wishing...

*    What they are afraid of...

*    What they are unaware of...

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#6 Stretch Goals

Stretch goals that are believable motivate higher performance better than easy goals, and easy goals motivate better than unbelievable high goals.

#7 Goals, Performance and Maturity

If people have self confidence, maturity and a sense of control over being able to earn rewards for their efforts, they respond to stretch goals with increased performance.  Those that are low on these traits do poorer with stretch goals.


#8 Feedback and Performance

Feedback helps performance when: it’s relevant, given with helpful presentation and timing, and directed to people who have high achievement motivation.  People 
with low achievement goals do not show a correlation between performance and feedback.

#9 Goal Setting, Learning and Performance

If you want to improve learning, combine it with goal setting.  In order to maximize the benefits of training upon performance, don’t just send people for training, tie it into specific performance goals.

#10 Participating and Goal Acceptance

Participating in goal setting works better than assigned goals, but only sometimes.  Actually the larger impact upon performance is goal acceptance.  Whether participants get there by participating or being assigned is probably second in importance


Next Steps:


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