Microspeak: Stretch goal


Recall that Microspeak is not merely for jargon exclusive to Microsoft, but also for jargon that you need to know.

A project will set some goals, which are things it intends to accomplish. It may also set stretch goals, which are things it hopes to acomplish. If you fail to achieve a stretch goal, your project is still a success, but if you make it, your project is even more awesome. A stretch goal could be unrelated to an existing goal.

Goals for this release

  • Support dynamic widget recolorization.

Stretch goals for this release

  • Improve throughput by 10% compared to previous version.

Non-goals for this release

  • Support offline mode.

But more often, it takes the form of a higher level of achievement for an existing goal:

Goal: 40% of the programs will land actual spend within 10% of estimate. Stretch goal: 60%.

Setting a stretch goal is tricky. You want to set it just at the edge of achievability. If you make it unrealistic, then nobody will take it seriously.

You can think of a stretch goal as an "extra credit" assignment. You won't be penalized for missing it, but making it will earn you kudos.

Comments (9)
  1. anonymouscommenter says:

    Ah the luxury of being able to set stretch goals. I get tired of scheduled release dates being utterly unrealistic.

  2. anonymouscommenter says:

    If stretch goals were given with a set bonus swag/$ associated to them more would get reached. :)

  3. anonymouscommenter says:

    Is this really just Microspeak anymore? Kickstarter has been using it in what appears to be the same sense, as sort of "extra" goals that they want to accomplish in addition to the basic goals if they receive sufficient extra funding to make it possible. Perhaps the two uses of the term originated independently, maybe Kickstarter borrowed it from Microsoft (former employees?), or perhaps it was a pre-existing term in English that just happened to be rare outside Microsoft. It seems like a sensible enough compound to not just be the second of these three possibilities, but who knows.

  4. anonymouscommenter says:

    @Brad: that only works if stretch goals = overtime goals.

  5. anonymouscommenter says:

    I distrust the stretch goals concept since, in my experience, they all too often become the goal.

  6. Brian_EE says:

    Do you think they also use this term in the world of competitive eating?

  7. cheong00 says:

    @Brad: Or the reverse will happen, because then anyone what to set a stretch goal has to have right on (re)allocating project budget.

  8. anonymouscommenter says:

    @Robert M. – but Raymond asked you in the very first sentence to "Recall that Microspeak is not merely for jargon exclusive to Microsoft, but also for jargon that you need to know."

  9. bzakharin says:

    Ah, yes, we had these at my last job at department level, usually for a metric that had a number, like 99.9% uptime or 25% increase in signups). We usually met them in the IT department too. Of course, that was the expectation as far as our VP was concerned (the CEO didn't know that, though. In fact, there was a third, lower goal, which we didn't even know about, that was reported to the CEO as the "meet" goal)

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