We love our targets. By 2040 we will no longer allow diesel and petrol cars to be sold in the UK. By 2050 we will be a net zero economy. By 2030 government will be joined up and trusted (as I wrote about yesterday).
Ever since 2000 when the goal was to get “100% of government online by 2005” these hockey stick goals (I’m quite sure I didn’t coin the term, but someone in the Office of the e-Envoy likely did) have become prevalent. They’re called hockey stick because the implementation plan looks – for all of them – like this:
The current set of goals are no different. Such long term goals are loved, mostly by those pronouncing them, because they’re thought to be visionary and inspiring. Send a man to the moon, bring him back alive, do it by the end of the decade and all that.
The trouble is they’re not inspiring and they’re not visionary. Not unless they come with a plan and some actions that will take place week to week, month to month and year to year to make them so. I don’t mind if the target is missed – anything far enough away has significant uncertainties in both the dimension of the goal and the timing – but I do mind when the goal is just thrown out there as a sound bite without any thinking about what it will take to achieve it and certainly when there’s no plan.