According to Penn State World Campus, Goal-Setting Theory has been the most researched, utilized, and established theory of work motivation in the field of industrial and organizational psychology.

In the late 1960s, Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham researched the theory of goal setting and motivation which gave us our modern understanding of goal setting in the workplace.  Their research showed that the more difficult and specific a goal is (without being too difficult), the harder people tend to work to achieve it.

Industry4o.comAs part of this research, Locke and Latham identified five elements that need to be in place for us to achieve our goals:

1. Clarity. A clear, measurable goal is more achievable than one that is poorly or vaguely defined. This is where the well-known Acronym SMART comes into play (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound)

2. Challenge. People are motivated by challenging goals – not unrealistic goals. Setting a goal that is perceived as too difficult will actually be counterproductive. This applies to individuals, as well as groups!

3. Commitment. When a personal goal, put deliberate effort into meeting this goal. With a team goal, make sure the team understands and agrees to the goal. People are likely to commit to it as long as they believe that the goal is achievable, it is consistent with the company’s ambitions, and the person assigning it is credible.

4. Feedback. Set up a method to receive information on your progress toward a goal. Feedback gives you the opportunity to clarify people’s expectations and adjust the difficulty of their goals.

5. Task Complexity. If a goal is especially complex, make sure you give yourself enough time to overcome the learning curve involved in completing the task. People who work in complicated and demanding roles can often push themselves too hard if they don’t take account of the complexity of the task.

When applying Goal-Setting to Digital Transformation:

There is no magic formula for setting digital transformation goals. Every business is different, each with its unique set of needs, approach to addressing change, and ability to achieve the goals.

Here are a few popular goals to consider:

▪️ Improve customer experience
▪️ Increase internal collaboration
▪️ Optimize processes and operations
▪️ Increase top-line growth
▪️ Increase efficiency
▪️ Become more agile
▪️ Create new business models
▪️ Reduce costs
▪️ Improve employee performance
▪️ Gain a competitive advantage

Remember, don’t make it too easy, and don’t take on too much at once. Successful Digital Transformations take time!

Sources and more information:



About the Author :

Jeff Winter

Mr. Jeff Winter
Industry Executive, Manufacturing


Jeff Winter is an Industry 4.0 & Digital Transformation Enthusiast | Business Strategist | Avid Storyteller | Tech Geek | Public Speaker

Jeff Winter is an Industry Executive for Manufacturing with Microsoft where he acts as an industry advisor helping manufacturers across the US digitally transform at scale. With over 15 years of experience working for different industrial automation product and solution providers, Jeff has a unique ability to simplify and communicate complex concepts to a wide range of audiences, educating and inspiring people from the shop floor up to the executive board room.  As part of his experience, Jeff is also very active in the community of Industry 4.0. 

He currently is a part of the International Board of Directors for MESA (Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association), the leadership committee for the Smart Manufacturing & IIoT Division of ISA (International Society of Automation), a U.S. registered expert for IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) as a member of TC 65, and part of Purdue University’s Smart Manufacturing Advisory Board.

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Jeff Winter