Goal Analysis by Robert F. Mager

It would not normally be my practice to discuss books that are difficult to find or out of print on SaltyBeliever.com, but Goal Analysis by Robert Mager is worth mentioning.  It is, from the best I can tell, not written by a Christian, nor is the audience intended specifically for Christians.  It's something of a business book, used in understanding how to evaluate affective goal statements.  I was required to read the 2nd edition as part of a project seminar for my doctoral studies.

But I suppose before I say more about Mager's book, I should clarify what I mean by an affective goal statement.  Mager would say it's something like, "We want our employees to be better citizens in the community," or "our employees are serious about safety" or "we desire to foster creativity within our students."  In church leadership today, a statement might be something like, "Loving God. Loving People," or "Real Life Transformation."  What do these kinds of statements really mean?  When you get right down to it, they are hard to define and even harder to measure.  How do you know your employee is a good citizen?  How do you measure how much a member of your church loves God?  What is the criteria to say a student is creative?  How do you measure an attitude?  

Mager calls affective goals that seek to change or improve attitudes, feeling, and those subjective things you just can't physically observe 'fuzzies.'  They're hard to measure, and that's the bottom line.  

The purpose of Goal Analysis is to turn difficult, unmeasurable fuzzies into well-defined, measurable statements that can be observed and analyzed.  Or put another way, Goal Analysis is a system that aids in getting at what the fuzzy really means and then measuring observable actions that highly lend to thinking the affective goal is happening internally along with the physically observable actions happening externally.  

Why would a church leader want to pick up this book?  Any church that has an affective mission statement or has created a number of fuzzy goals should seriously think about reading this book. In fact, Mager has an example of a church and the church's goals in the book.  They wanted to be a church of "loving service, unselfish devotion, sincere fairness, enlightened honesty, confiding trust, merciful ministry, unfailing goodness, forgiving tolerance, and enduring peace" (100).  If the pastor was to ask six people to provide a list of those in the church that were meeting these objectives and those who were not, what criteria would be provided so all six people could successfully come up with the same list?  How does a church know how merciful they are, and how will they know when they've achieved their objectives?  Mager helps zero it in. 

While the title sounds extremely boring, Mager is an engaging writer and the book is an easy, quick read.  I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to improve goals that are ill defined and fuzzy.