Carter: Management by Objectives: You Need to Plan

Most fire service and industry managers will agree that a day started without a plan, without some goals to achieve, normally results in fewer accomplishments than a day lived with setting and meeting objectives.

Similarly, it would be a good thing to manage your department's response to emergency situations. Here is an example which can help you to frame your understanding of my thoughts. "At the end of eighteen months, our fire department will work to increase the emergency personnel response to twelve people operating two pumpers and an aerial device in greater than 90 percent of the fire department's operational incidents. You can easily measure the count now and then at the end of eighteen months you can make a new measurement.

The hard thing here is that you will actually have to lay out a plan which specifies just how you will meet this new goal. I am suggesting that a lick and a promise will not achieve this type of organizational objectives. In the career world you will have to battle for the bucks to get the people you need. In addition you will need to beef up your mutual aid agreements. Remember that the keep word in mutual aid is 'mutual'.

In the volunteer world, you will need to insure that some form of recruiting and retention are undertaken to increase the operational pool of people who are available to respond. You will need to create incentives to respond. Most importantly, you should put a great deal of effort into creating the camaraderie which will motivate the people to turn out for the calls. And like the career world you will need to develop effective mutual aid and automatic aid agreements.

It has been my personal experience that more and better successes will occur when something is expected of people by their leaders. If leaders expect nothing of their people, subordinates will always work to fulfill their expectations to the fullest extent possible. This is a sad story which I have seen repeated countless times during my career in the fire service.

Cooperation, communication and trust are the cornerstones which must exist in order to have a successful MBO program. When the subordinate lacks faith in the intentions of the supervisor, the necessary communications and cooperation will not be forthcoming. In order to engender the necessary good feelings, supervisors must always operate in an open and honest way. Hidden agendas and vested interests wills surely scuttle an attempt at managing through the use of objectives.

If it is your intention to become an expert in continuing crisis management, then don't even worry about MBO. Remember, nothing can ruin a good solid crisis like the existence of facts, empathy and cooperation. So as we pause each October to celebrate the deeds of Christopher Columbus, let us also pause to do away with the sort of unorganized approach to progress that let him to "accidentally" discover the land in which we now live.