Cover Image
close this bookDesigning Human Settlements Training in African Countries - Volume 2: Trainer's Tool Kit (HABITAT, 1994, 182 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe lecture
View the documentVisual aids
View the documentQuestion and answer
View the documentDiscussion
View the documentDemonstration
View the documentSimulation
View the documentThe case method
View the documentCritical incidents
View the documentRole-playing
View the documentInstrumentation
View the documentBrainstorming
View the documentNominal group technique (NGT)
View the documentForce field analysis
View the documentAction planning
View the documentOther learning transfer strategies
View the documentPerformance analysis & needs assessment
View the documentTraining impact evaluation
View the documentTraining the staff to train
View the documentCoaching
View the documentTeam development
View the documentRole negotiation
View the documentIntergroup conflict intervention
View the documentOrganizational goal setting
View the documentA closing note

Organizational goal setting

Learning Emphasis

Organization Focus

What good is running if one is on the wrong road.

- English Proverb

Goal-setting is a process by which organizational leaders make things happen. They use it to define why they exist and provide themselves with a set of purpose statements - goals - to serve as both guidelines and inspiration for future organizational effort. Policy-makers who engage in goal-setting report that the experience has helped them and their staffs to:

· Be more responsive to the needs of their customers,
· Set priorities on projects and other work activities,
· Pull together to achieve common purposes,
· Prevent most crises by anticipating trouble,
· Make course corrections needed to stay on track, and
· Feel committed to do their best by seeing the big picture.

Goal-setting can be initiated anywhere in an organization. It can be carried out by individuals, by organizational sub-units, like departments or divisions, by entire organizations, and even by whole communities. Participants usually include people who are accountable for results, including policy-makers and managers; the organization’s employees; clients or customers of the organization; and others with an interest in the success of the organization, sometimes called stakeholders.

While goal-setting can take many forms (see, for example, the goal-setting programme design described later in this section), most approaches have three common features:

1. They state the highest, most fundamental purpose for which the organization exists. Sometimes called a mission or purpose statement or shared vision, such statements are meant to unify and inspire the best in people. For example, in 1961 President John Kennedy galvanized the American people to countless acts of courage by launching that country’s space programme with the words: “to have a man on the moon by the end of the decade.” More than inspiration, purpose statements provide organizations with a framework for developing more specific goals and priorities. Typical of purpose statements in local government is this one.


We want our city to be the best managed and most livable city in the country. We will accomplish this through people who genuinely care and who provide responsive, quality service.

2. They state future accomplishments in terms of the fulfillment of broad public needs, the solution of major problems or the readiness to seize emerging opportunities. Normally attainable in one to five years, goals provide direction for organizational effort and are intended to advance the fundamental purposes of an organization. Meaningful goals describe what will exist when goal-directed action is taken by an organization. Below are some typical goal statements that could be used to set work priorities in a local government.

Goals for Infrastructure Installation and Maintenance

1. Adequate wastewater services that meet approved standards.
2. Adequate protection from flooding and drainage problems.
3. Safe, efficient and convenient movement of people and goods.

3. They state intended actions that, when completed, will result in measurable progress toward an organizational goal. Called strategies, these statements describe the most advantageous ways for an organization to commit its resources toward the attainment of its goals. Useful strategies are quite specific in answering three questions:

· What is to be done?
· Who is responsible for getting it done?
· When it is to be done?

A strategy related to a goal of adequate wastewater services that answers these three questions is shown below.


A design for organizational goal-setting suitable for use by the elected leaders of a local government together with their top staff administrative personnel is shown in the pages that follow.


Goal-setting is a process used by an organization, usually with the assistance of a consultant, to choose its future and thereby avoid having its future shaped by forces outside its control. Goal-setting engages the efforts of people from all parts of an organization to take time away from routine activities to define their fundamental purposes, set one-to-five-year goals, and develop detailed goal-implementation strategies. The long-run success of the goal-setting process depends on follow-through with action-plan development, implementation and progress reporting to policy-makers by the staff.

A Goal-Setting Programme Design


1. Develop a set of community goals that challenge and inspire committed action on the part of local-government officials.

2. Develop measurable goal-attainment strategies to serve as a basis for programme planning for the current budget year.

Time required

Two to three full days (12-18 hours)


A large, comfortable meeting room with a conference table and two chart pads on easels. Two or three smaller rooms large enough for three to five people to work independently and each equipped with a chart pad on an easel.


An outside facilitator normally is used to complete preliminary tasks and to assist with the goal-setting meeting itself.

Step 1: Problem and opportunity assessment

Participating local-government policy-makers and executive staff members complete a pre-programme questionnaire prepared by goal-setting facilitators. The questionnaire consists of statements designed to promote creative thinking about potential achievements and improvements in the organization. Several statements used in pre-programme questionnaires are shown in the following worksheet.

Describe in a sentence or two the most fundamental reason for the existence of this organization.

List three important achievements for this organization in the next couple of years to which you and others will be able to point with pride.




List three new directions for improved performance, lower cost, increased income, or better service delivery.




Step 2: Formulation of preliminary goal statements

Completed questionnaires are returned to the facilitators for analysis. Common areas of interest and concern are identified. Each of these is rewritten by the facilitators as a preliminary goal. Goals are coded as long- or short-range and classified in some appropriate way (e.g., economic development, infrastructure improvement, service delivery, intergovernmental relations).

Step 3: Preparation of programme materials

Materials containing the programme schedule (usually two days in length at a location away from work interruptions), an agenda, a list of preliminary goal statements prepared by the facilitators, and a goal analysis worksheet are distributed to goal-setting participants at least one week prior to the programme. Participants are asked to complete the goal analysis worksheet before the programme. Included in the worksheet are questions like those shown in the following exhibit for participants to answer about each of the preliminary goal statements.


Step 4: Programme phase one - goal adoption

After opening comments by the chief elected official and the lead facilitator, completed goal analysis worksheets are collected and grouped by goal. Several policy-maker staff-teams are formed and each team is given several of the goals and related worksheet results for team analysis. The objective is for each team to propose either abandoning, modifying, rewording or accepting (without change) each of its goals The teams regroup after completing their tasks to report results. After all reports have been made and the goal proposals discussed, a final list of goals is approved.

Step 5: Programme phase two - strategy development

Following a presentation by the facilitator on strategies for goal implementation, policy-maker staff-teams are assigned groups of goals and asked to develop strategies for each of these goals. Strategies are specific actions which, when completed successfully, will contribute to the attainment of the goal to which they are related. Each team is given instructions for strategy development (see strategy questions and example presented earlier) and a chart pad for presenting its strategies to the other teams at a plenary session.

Step 6: Programme phase three - presentation and adoption

At a plenary session, spokespersons for the various policy-maker staff-teams, in turn, present their teams’ strategy proposals on large sheets of newsprint. After each presentation, strategy proposals are discussed thoroughly and are either adopted without change, adopted with amendment or withdrawn as unacceptable.

Note: Members of each policy-maker staff-team are advised by the facilitators to practise active listening during other team presentations and to defer judgment about each proposal until its meaning and potential impact are explained and discussed fully.

Step 7: Post-programme action planning

Following the programme, goals and strategies are referred to the staff for action planning - coordination, scheduling and assignment of responsibility for implementation and follow-through. Completed action plans are compiled and presented to policy makers by the chief administrator for their information and approval.

Step 8: Post programme evaluation

At intervals during the year, the chief administrator submits written reports on action plan progress to policy-makers. Individuals responsible for strategy implementation are present at planned review meetings to answer questions and suggest changes as necessary.