top of page
  • Writer's pictureTilo Schwarz

Do you have a Target Condition? Always have one!

Having a next Target Condition is essential for individuals and teams. Especially when the water is rough, and the waves are high. Here are 5 tips to make defining your next Target Condition easy:


Hi 21st Century Leaders and Coaches,

Having a next Target Condition is essential for individuals and teams. Especially when the water is rough, and the waves are high. Always having a next Target Condition helps us to stay focused and aligns efforts across the team. Likewise, defining a personal Target Condition for every new week is a good habit to build. What do we, what do I need to achieve this week?

5 tips to make defining your next Target Condition easy:

  1. Use an empty sheet of paper rather than a detailed form.

  2. Define and measure the impact you need to achieve.

  3. Describe the condition needed to achieve that impact.

  4. Define a way to measure progress.

  5. Pick a focus for the week.


5 tips for defining your next Target Condition:

USE AN EMPTY sheet of paper rather than a detailed form. The next Target Condition describes what we strive to achieve towards our longer-term objective in a short period, let's say in a week from now. When my management team and I started working with Target Conditions in 2007, we did not have sophisticated forms. We used an empty sheet of paper or a flipchart.

Add two lines, to form a T in the middle, Current Condition on the left side, Target Condition on the right side, above that your challenge, where do you want to be in 6 weeks from now. You can do this in any meeting and for any topic. Keep it simple. Empty sheet. Draw the T. Where are we now? Where do we have to be in one week from now?

DEFINE AND MEASURE the impact we need to achieve. That is the link to the challenge. Ask yourself: How will we know that we have achieved an impact in the end. Define a metric to measure it and the target value you need to reach for that metric. That is called the outcome metric. Often these are existing target metrics such as revenue with a particular product, the productivity of a line, quality rate, customer satisfaction rate, response time, parts per shift, lead time.

DESCRIBE THE CONDITION needed in the process to achieve that impact. We call this the desired process pattern. That is done best by drawing a before and after picture of the process. Grab a pencil, and just do it. Anybody can draw. Formats can be a block diagram, a value stream map, a flow chart. If you need to go for text. Use full sentences to describe what you want to achieve.

Focus on the process, what we can see and experience when we reach our desired state. User-stories in the software world are an example of that. If you work on improving the skills of individuals and teams, describe the desired behavior you would like to see in specific situations.

DEFINE A WAY to measure progress. How do we know we are making progress towards our desired process pattern this week? When improving a process it is about measuring how close we are getting to the desired process pattern. That could be the time needed for a certain step. Or how often a step can be performed in the desired way. Or how often does a certain bug occur we are trying to fix. That is called the process metric. I also like to call it 'progress metric' to emphasize its purpose.

PICK A FOCUS for the week. When working towards a longer-term challenge, Target Conditions from week to week should be consecutive. Hence, the above three, often stay in place for several weeks or rounds of Target Conditions.

For each week, pick a focus to work on. Look at your desired process pattern. Which part or step of the process to we want to change this week? What is the desired state at that point in the process? If it is not clear enough, add more details to your description now. Maybe place an arrow on your picture to visualize the focal point for the week. If you have a process metric in place, what is our target for it by the end of this week? For yourself, as well as a team don't pick more than three focal points. We want to stay focused. BIG 3 for the week. That's enough.

REMARK: If you can't come up with a process metric to measure progress, you could use the BIG 3 approach as well. Measure how many of your BIG 3 you achieve every week. There are occasions when I don't fully meet my BIG 3 for the week. However, I reflect on it. I take that seriously as I know consecutively not achieving my BIG 3  is a downward spiral.  What is it that has kept me from making my BIG 3 this week, and what can I do to get better in getting things done next week?

See you next time and as always, focus on people and foster scientific thinking to enable your team to achieve great things together.

If you like this post share it right now with a friend or colleague your care about.



FOOTNOTES: Get more helpful tips on how to successfully lead in chaotic times and coach your team to navigate unknown territory. My free webinar is now available on-demand at


Want helpful tips for navigating uncertainty and change? Sign up for my newsletter.

Follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube.



bottom of page