© 2002, Barry Sweeny
In program evaluation and improvement, “targets” are the answer to the question, “How much is good enough?”. Targets define the desired extent of improvement of some specific data within a specified time. In other words, if an indicator suggests a data pattern that is not as good as needed, we must decide what level that data must be to be acceptable. That projected level in the indicator is the “target” we want to attain.
The targets themselves are valuable as motivators, but they are critical because of what happens in the process of defining and agreeing to measurable targets. As it turns out, that consensus building process will ensure that your targets ARE measurable, for thoughtful people will not agree to be held accountable for something fuzzy.
Reaching consensus on measurable targets will also greatly increase the chances that you will actually attain the targets you set. Once achieved, that consensus allows people to work together to achieve their targets.
Another reason targets are helpful, is that they serve as hypotheses to test for what can be accomplished. The better you get at predicting accurately what you can and cannot achieve (a target), the better your program planning will serve as a guide for implementation. In other words, eventually you will be able to actually accomplish what you predicted you could. Also, you will not make commitments to deliver results that feel you cannot attain. Achieving this is very important to the long-term success of your program.
Clear, measurable targets for which there s consensus are the key to make all this happen.