Working with targets: the high vs. the far jumper


Result planning is a technique that is used for planning financial and other results (what’s in a name?!). For doing result planning you need certain elements:

  • A goal: why are you doing result planning as such?
  • A measurement: what are you measuring? Why?
  • A baseline: from where on do you start measuring? What is your starting value?
  • A timeline: when do you start measuring? When do you end?
  • A target: which results do you want to reach (by the end of your timeline)?

And last but not least:

  • A plan: what are the intermediary steps to your results? Is your progress linear or are you growing in steps (eg. release related in ICT environments)?

When you doing result planning for cost savings or financial benefits, we can recognize three types of people:

  • People doing no result planning at all.
  • People who do result planning like far jumpers.
  • People who do result planning like high jumpers.

Since we are now in the spirit of the Olympic Games of 2012, let’s look at the jumpers.

Far jumpers

Far jumpers are athletics who try to jump as far as possible. There are no explicit targets set for them. They just try to jump as far as they can. For them, there’s only the run line, the jump line and the sand. It doesn’t matter how far they get, as long as they get the most far of them all.

In business environments, far jumpers don’t plan for results. They just try to achieve as much as them as possible. This has some advantages and disadvantages.

The advantage is that the sky is the limit: why set limits when you’re doing actions regarding cost savings or financial benefits? Just try to reach as much as you can!

The disadvantage is that without planning, results are only a matter of luck. When you don’t plan for results, you have no guarantee that results are made. Ever.

High jumpers

High jumper Tia Hellabaut

High jumper Tia Hellabaut

High jumpers are athletics who to try to jump over a preset (high) bar. High jumpers don’t try to jump as high as possible: before they jump, they tell the referee how high they are going to jump. 2,02 meters, 2,04 meters, …

This is actually result planning: they set a target in advance and do their best to reach it. If they didn’t reach it, they missed target. If they did reach it, they can raise the bar and go for a next attempt. So, when setting new targets, the term “raise the bar” is used. Now you know where it’s coming from when your superior tells to raise it.

The advantage of high jumping is that it’s clear for everyone what the target is and what you have to do to make it. Just like in the Olympic Games, it’s probably not possible to reach your end target in just one attempt: you need intermediary targets.

Here’s where result planning comes into place: determine your end target, determine the steps to reach it and don’t be afraid to raise the bar when you make your targets too soon.

Thanks to my colleague Bart for the metaphor!

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3 thoughts on “Working with targets: the high vs. the far jumper

  1. Bert says:

    If you put your target at 2,01 m as a high jumper it is possible you never reach it and there is no guarantee you ever will. You can ask Tia.

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