The dialogue was lost somewhere in the process when management by objectives was introduced in the mid-eighties. We can speculate about the reasons. At introduction, the discourse around the objectives was emphasised. A discussion of goals and (performance) measures between the partners was part of the model. Where then are the partners at later stages in the project? Leadership must include dialogue with those concerned not only at the start, but also during the process. We clarify together what should be achieved – and what we are achieving, in the dialogue. Not in boxes. Together we may recognise that results in different respects mismatch – and good figures might not correspond to our experience and feelings (terrible!) that things are not all right. And we may acknowledge changes over time – some results are unexpected, some worse and some better – and we should be prepared even to modify the programme strategy and design. However, that is not always happening.
– From the whole to the parts. From the forest to the trees.
– From long-term and persistent effects to short-term output.
– From the forest growth and its wellbeing to planting of the seedlings.
Leadership includes the overview – without missing the details. And lack of leadership is definitely a reason behind “obsessive measurement disorder”. But lack of focus is an even worse reason. The “how” is important, but the steering must start with the “what”!
It appears that the idea of result-based management needs to be constantly re-conquered, just like democracy.