Healthy organizations need both stretch and success to stay alive and vibrant, just like a well-balanced diet includes food that is both tasty and healthy. The key to integrating the two is to carve quick wins out of long-term goals — so that each small success is a building block towards achieving a broader challenge.
Regardless of context, there are two keys to the effective
use of short-term stretch goals.
The first is to make sure that the immediate goals
are part of a larger, more ambitious effort so that whatever is achieved and
learned is a building block, not an end-in-itself. In other words, extremely
ambitious stretch goals need to be deconstructed into lots of short-term stretch
goals, sometimes with multiple cycles.
2. Second, intentionally design the
short-term stretch goals in ways that force innovation, collaboration, and
learning — so it's not just a matter of working harder for a short period of
time. In this way, each short-term success builds capability and knowledge for
the next and the next.
Let's not dismiss stretch goals as demotivating or dangerous. If
you tackle them by carving out short-term challenges, and learn as you go, they
can be a powerful way to accelerate progress.