I have been very happy with the topic of the latest two-thirds of a cast. I still have a little hope that the third part will answer part of my main remaining problem with goal setting, but.... it proves to be extremely difficult for me to set good goals for a development group.
Currently, our R&D goals are expressed as "finish such and so project by ...." or "stay within the budget" I am trying to get more diversity. Our company gets its inspiration from the Balanced Score Card. Every department should try to set goals on each of the four directions: finance, process, client and development.
The problem with setting goals for an R&D department is that each potential goal that we thought of is either too coarse grained, or it does not really express what we want.
An example: "we will submit patent drafts for at least 5 new ideas to our patent lawyers by December 31". I am sure there would be no problem getting 5 new patentable ideas. However, patenting would cost a lot of money, and there is no measurable quantity in the goal that will tell us whether these ideas will deliver value to the company.
Another example: "During 2008, we will finish >60% of all our current development projects on the currently planned time". But how do I convince people to abandon this goal if a company critical project comes in in March that has a much higher priority?
We thought of others. All of the examples we come up with suffer from the "you become what you target" syndrome. And because all the measures we have are indirect measures of success for the development (proxy's that are not reliable enough), or they are trailing our reality by a number of years (successful product introductions take that long to become profitable), they fail to get things moving into the right direction.
I have once seen a repository on the web that registers ideas for Balanced Score Card measurements. There are disappointingly few examples there for R&D. I even read the PhD thesis "Systematic design of R&D performance measurement systems" and gaining only the insight that larger companies also find it very difficult, but have found great value in designing their systems correctly.
Any and all help I could get from the many experts on these forums would be most appreciated.