Organizational ObjectivesWriting objectives is a critical part of strategic planning. Your objectives must be clear statements detailing what will be accomplished, in what time frame, and evaluated against what standard. Peter Drucker stated in The Practice of Management that, “objectives are not fate; they are direction. They are not commands, but they are commitments. They do not determine the future, they are the means by which the resources and energies of the operation can be mobilized for the making of the future.” (p. 102)
What Makes a Good Objective?
There are a number of characteristics of good objectives:
Objectives should be clear and concise. Simply state what the objective and avoid long, flowery prose.
Objectives should be in written form. By writing your objectives you can reduce the possibility of misinterpretation or misunderstanding.
Objectives should name specific results. Make it clear how the results will be evaluated – “1,000 females of child-bearing age who smoke will be counseled” instead of “a large number of women who smoke” or “an acceptable level of patient services” should be used to clearly state what results are sought.
Objectives should be time-sensitive. Objectives can be for the short-run or long-run but the timeframe should be indicated. This provides not only a deadline but also sets the time for the final evaluation of the strategy.
Objectives should be stated in measurable terms. Avoid ambiguous phrases such as “increase patient satisfaction” or “improve staffing” which don’t allow for measurement. How much increase? How much improvement?
Objectives should be attainable, yet challenging. It doesn’t do any good to write objectives that no organization can ever accomplish or objectives that can be reached with minimum effort.
In healthcare, we tend to focus on four different types of objectives: 1) services offered; 2) staffing; 3) services reimbursement, donations, and funding; and 4) constituents served.
Before you write your objectives, consider these questions:
What areas will your objectives focus on – patients, services, revenues, staffing, other?
What needs to happen for your program to be successful? How many people served? Levels reached? Etc.
When do you want this to happen? By what specific date?
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