Mary Poppendieck

What’s Wrong With Targets? How Policy Deployment differs from Management by Objectives

For years, common sense in Western Management thinking has dictated that the way to get something done in an organization is to set performance targets and hold people accountable for achieving those targets. But leaders in lean organizations have a mindset that defies this common wisdom. They prefer to identify the ultimate goal (true north) and spend their time helping people navigate in that direction. They are neither “hands‐off” nor “hands‐on” – they focus on developing the people and systems that are capable of delivering superior results. Policy Deployment in a lean organization is like navigating a ship – it starts with an understanding of the final destination, but leaders don’t forget that it’s their job to steer the ship along the way.


Mary Poppendieck has been in the Information Technology industry for over thirty years. She has managed software development, supply chain management, manufacturing operations, and new product development. She spearheaded the implementation of a Just‐in‐Time system in a 3M video tape manufacturing plant and led new product development teams, commercializing products ranging from digital controllers to 3M Light Fiber™.   

Mary is a popular writer and speaker, and coauthor of the book Lean Software Development, which was awarded the Software Development Productivity Award in 2004. A sequel, Implementing Lean Software Development, was published in 2006. A third book, Leading Lean Software Development, was published in November 2009.