In the News section of the May 2010 edition of Qualityworld (who I have written for) there is a report on a vote by readers on which of the political parties have the best appreciation of change. I noted that one respondent wrote,
The Tories’ critisism of targets indicates that they do not understand the basic quality principle of plan, do, study, act.
I would counter that the writer of the statement above does not understand that to set a target is not a plan. There is no proper ‘do’ other than set the arbitrary target then stand back. The ‘study’ is reduced to the useless, “see if we hit the target” and the ‘act’ can only be to change the level of the target, drop it or add a new one to counter the perverse unintended effects of the first one.
A proper plan has method. Things you are going to study to understand your situation so you can make changes with knowledge. Targets do not give knowledge, only fear and pressure.