Loftier goals induce more cheating
The research. The action.
The research. Recent research by David Welsh, of the University of Washington, and Lisa Ordonez, of the University of Arizona, indicates that people given a very difficult goal to achieve are 84% more likely to cheat when trying to reach that goal. Unfortunately, we have seen first hand at the VA the deleterious impact of managing by goals. When workers were told to reduce wait times to 2 weeks, and were paid bonuses to do so, wait times were reported to drop to close to 2 weeks. Unfortunately the actual wait times were much longer.
The action. Reward and focus on processes. What the VA should have done was study what it would have taken within their internal processes so that patients would have been processed so efficiently that the resulting wait time would have been two weeks. That’s what works. Goals, such as increasing sales numbers or reducing wait times, are outcomes of processes.