Introduction to Management By Missions II

February 18, 2018

Section 2:  A History Of Objectives and Missions

Beginning in the early 20th century, major companies like General Electric, Dupont, and General Motors began to develop and deploy an approach to management that was objectives driven.  In fact, in the 1950’s the management guru Peter Drucker coined the actual term “management by objectives” in his book The Practice of Management.  Much of the popularity of managing by objectives came from the idea that people who had clear objectives to work toward would be more productive than those who didn’t have any such objectives.

In the 1960-70’s, formal studies on managing by objectives confirmed its positive effects in the workplace.  However, they also confirmed some shortcomings.  In 1973, an article in The Academy of Management Journal found that employees often didn’t set high enough objectives for themselves [aka sandbag], while managers began to use the set objectives to pressure their staff.

In recent years, the idea of missions in the workplace has started to gain momentum.  The basic premise is that when a person’s own mission is intentionally well-aligned with a larger mission, they tend to set more ambitious objectives and attain better results.

With the focus in the workplace now shifting from being objective driven to being mission driven, the use of objectives can be even more effective because they are now a means to an end, not the end itself.

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Carlos Rey | Founder, DPMC

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