Annual Goals with the Dead Man’s Rule

Ran across a wonderful rule when putting together your annual goals.

“A goal that a dead man can meeting is pretty useless.”

– (Comment on Manager Tools)

Some potential dead man’s goals:

  • Improve automation on projects.

All I need to meet this goal is a single developer with an ounce of effort to create a single ant file or shell script. I don’t have to be alive to meet this goal.

  • Engage more with business customers.

If one of my developers talks to a salesperson in the hallway, check, done.

  • Deliver 5 projects.

No one said they had to be big projects, maybe a small production bug fix counts as a project. Again a team could probably do this without any manager.

  • Perform maintenance on System X.

Everyone has maintenance, check.

The guys at Manager tools have a really simple model. The goal just has to be measurable and time based. Thus the goals become:

  • Automate all projects with maven by November 15.
  • Meet a rating of good or better with an annual survey of customer satisfaction for internal customers by September 1st.
  • Deliver Project X with less than 10 severe bugs by May 25th.
  • Reduce maintenance costs on System X by 50% by December 30th.