Posted by: JC Gatlin | January 20, 2010

How to Write a Goal Statement

The Goal Statement is the clear, concise, measurable and attainable objective of the PDCA. It must include a precise target date to accomplish the goal and it must mirror the problem statement.

Step 1.

Copy the Problem Statement verbatim:

Step 2.

Reword the Problem Statement to reflect the desired state or so that the problem reads as if it has already been corrected.

Step 3.

Set a realistic target date to achieve the goal. Don’t make it so soon that the counter measures don’t have time to produce the desired results. But don’t put the target date out so far into the future that the group forgets to follow-up on the PDCA. Also, make the target date specific and exact — think of this as a due date. “By April 15, 2010” is a specific target date. “By mid-April” or “April 2010” or “by 4th Quarter” can imply April 15th, but those generalities can also be interpreted as many other dates.

Step 4.

Remove the Standard clause from the Goal Statement. It is no longer needed.

Step 5.

Check for some common missteps:

  • Does the Goal Statement have the word “Update,” “Create,” “Set-up,” “Centralize” or “Standardize” in it? Those actions are Counter Measures, not goals. The goal of a PDCA is never to update —- updating is a counter measure that will allow you to achieve the goal.
  • Does your Goal Statement have a date range instead of a specific target date. A date range in a Goal Statement implies that the PDCA intends to eliminate the problem for a short period of time, then allow it to return. This is actually a common mistake, as PDCA groups sometimes think that since the Problem Statement has a date range, the Goal Statement should too.
  • Is the Goal Statement worded differently than the Problem Statement? If mirroring the problem statement doesn’t make sense or the goal statement is awkward, then the PDCA probably hasn’t identified the real problem yet. Go back to the Problem Description and try re-writing the Problem Statement.
  • Does the Goal Statement have a different measurement than the Problem Statement? If the Problem Statement reads “36% of all Construction Professionals” then the Goal Statement can’t read “9 out of 10 Construction Professionals.” If the Problem Statement measures the problem in a percentage, so must the Goal Statement.  

The goal statement is the PDCA’s compass. It sets the direction for the problem statement and the following causes and counter measures.  Without a clear direction, the PDCA can mire down in  data collection or steer off course during the cause & effect analysis.

© January 2010 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo



  1. I very well appreciate your realistic approach.
    Thank for your suggestions .
    PDCA is a real continous improvement “basic” but as you say not all people use this simple, logic and strong “tool” in good manner.

  2. We sometimes start with writing the Goal Statement — especially when we can’t seem to figure out exactly what the problem is but we know what we want to achieve with the PDCA. It helps make writing the problem statement clearer.

  3. […] How to write a Goal Statement dal blog Lean Homebuilding di J.C. Gatlin: Dopo l’analisi di come si scrive la dichiarazione di un problema, adesso, in funzione della dichiarazione del problema facciamo la definizione dell’obiettivo (traduzione automatica) […]

  4. Excellent blog focusing SMART concern in wiring problem and goal statement for lean sigma project. its the most crucial statement to manage project scope

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