Targets and Target Conditions

A target is a number that you are trying to achieve. A target condition is an ongoing status that you are trying to maintain. You need to have both to keep your project moving forward.

When you have a project, you are going to have targets. I want to deliver the change we are making by spending under $7000. I want to be done by April 2nd. I need to have growth of 40 new customers weekly to achieve velocity. Targets are easy to understand your success. You can ask did I deliver. . . . [whatever your target was.] If the answer is yes, you hit your goal.

Target conditions are a little trickier. But you need to have target conditions to help you hit your targets more consistently. A target condition is the regular operating rhythm that will get you to your target.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you are travelling to California. (About 4200km from Southern Ontario.) You are going to drive, and you are going to sight-see along the way. You have a week to get to California. You could spend most of your time in Michigan, Iowa, and Colorado, and then at the end of the week, you could cram the last 18 hours of your drive in your last day of travel. Or you could set yourself a target condition of 600km a day. If you travel 600km daily, you will get to sunny California (the target) on time with no last-minute sprint. Some days you might go a little more than 600km. Some days a little less. But with a steady 600km, you have lots of time to do sight-seeing, and you know what you have to accomplish every day to get yourself to your target.

You can apply the same concept to your projects. Set your target conditions according to your targets. What needs to be done on a regular basis to reach your target? Measure those numbers regularly. Make sure that you follow up if the target condition is consistently missed. But in ordinary life sometimes people will exceed the target condition, and sometimes they will underdeliver. But your target condition can help you understand what people are delivering on a regular basis. And if you are going to hit your targets, you probably want to hit your target conditions.


There is more to target conditions. Continuous improvement tells us that we want to set our target conditions a little beyond what we think we can achieve. But we will leave that topic for another day.

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