We don’t manage by objectives: we pilot the objectives and manage the women and men.
MBO (management by objectives) has a negative image because the terminology used suggests that objectives take precedence over people.
This idea is reinforced by other dubious expressions such as “human capital” or “human resources”.
The expression “human capital” suggests that the company owns the people and that it uses this “asset” to achieve its objectives.
The expression “human resources” is no better: people prefer to be considered as “sources” of knowledge and inspiration rather than “resources” that are consumed and sometimes wasted by the company.
These words, deeply rooted in our daily vocabulary, seem anachronistic today.
They refer to the modern times of Charlie Chaplin where the mechanization of tasks sent the individual back to a role of executor.
They hark back to the older, darker days of slavery when the value of a cotton field was determined by the number of slaves who “worked” it.
And if we go back in time, the TRIPALIUM which is the origin of the word “work” was an instrument of torture.
On the other hand, managing objectives is a natural and indispensable component of any human activity: setting objectives collectively and individually, defining criteria to “objectively” measure the achievement of our objectives, establishing action plans and distributing roles, monitoring actions, controlling budgets, measuring results, adjusting objectives, reviewing priorities, etc.
Whether it’s going on vacation or sending a rocket to Mars, having goals is as necessary as making the journey together, showing solidarity in times of trial, learning, growing and celebrating, …
Between Taking and Undertaking, the subtlety is great because Undertaking Together is the very essence of any Company.
Missions, vision, values, culture (…): it is by putting the Human being at the center of the game that the most beautiful human adventures become formidable successes of Company.
This is the spirit of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract.
Leading vs. Lagging (advanced / delayed)
Outcome vs. Output (why / how)
When you analyze the individual and collective objectives of a company, you can get a fairly accurate picture of the management culture by measuring the ratio (%) of the number of OUTCOME objectives to the total number of objectives
If this ratio is low, the dominant culture is one of execution: actions are taken and deliverables are produced.
If this ratio is high, the dominant culture is one of added value: who I work for and what added value I bring to them.
This reasoning applies to all business lines, including support functions which, as business partners, are responsible for providing added value to their internal customers.
Example: if the CRM project manager’s goal is to deploy in 20 countries, he thinks OUTPUT (HOW) … but if his goal is to save salespeople time and help improve their performance, then he thinks OUTCOME (WHY).
Another way to find OUTCOME indicators is to ask yourself: when I have completed my work (done all my tasks and produced all my deliverables), how will I measure the value of my work to those who benefit from it?
– one of the parties has pulled too hard on the rope
– the rope has broken due to natural wear
– an external factor has weakened the rope
Every organization is a meta individual with its own Maslow’s pyramid that seeks to satisfy desires (goals): to be financially healthy, to achieve strategic objectives, to fulfill a mission. Organizations are alive and their objectives change during their life cycle.
Each member of the organization has his own Maslow’s pyramid and when he chooses to join an organization, he signs a contract which can be a commercial contract (freelance), an employment contract (employee), a moral contract (influencer), …
Whatever its legal form, the contract that binds the employee to the organization is first and foremost a social contract that must give the employee the means to satisfy his or her desires more …
… than by other own means.
When the contract is broken by the employee, it is natural to ask questions:
– have the collaborator’s desires changed?
– Is the employment contract always the simplest, most efficient, quickest and least risky way to achieve one’s objectives?
Employees’ desires changed profoundly before and during the COVID crisis:
– balance between professional and personal life
– rejection of large agglomerations
– search for meaning in work
– daily interest of the activities
– enjoy working with colleagues
– recognition of commitment
– taking into account the singularity
– quality of life at work
– opportunity to develop
Companies have also evolved their desires to meet the new constraints of an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment:
– accelerated rhythms
– resource optimization
– performance requirements
– process industrialization
– better control of risks
– complexification of organizations
The forces at play seem so strong and so opposed that one may question the very future of the employment contract. In many sectors of the economy, the permanent contract is no longer the dominant model: journalism, entertainment, IT, sports, cabs, etc.
The “liquefaction” of the world of work, made possible by platforms and remote work, challenges the traditional business model.
Is a company without employees still a company?
Is it possible to fight against this (r)evolution?
Is this desirable?
Only one thing is certain: a new social contract must be rebuilt, and this can only be done by working together with all stakeholders.