Focus and measure the short term; transparent planning for the long term

One of my first tasks in state government was to review the plans and progress for Y2K upgrades — some $320 million spread across 2 dozen agencies.  The State CIO developed a simple system of measuring momentum and progress — red, green, yellow signals.  If you made no progress in a month, or backed up, you got a red light.  If you had made progress, but not complete all tasks on schedule, you got yellow.  Green meant everything was going according to plan

This NYT story reminds me how effective such an implementation tool can be:

Getting Stuff Done: It’s a Goal, and a Rating System

Everybody should know what everybody’s goals and controls are, and everybody should understand their individual ones relative to their department, and their department’s goals relative to the company’s.  To achieve that, we publish company wide goals and controls. We have six major goals this year, and there might be three or four metrics for each. We publish that every month for the company. It’s transparent. Then we talk every month with the company about whether we’re at green, yellow or red on any of those six things, and we are very transparent about that. We don’t hide the bad news.

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