Episode Summary

Can you envision your organization setting a goal that seems impossible to achieve? Join David and Drew as they dissect the paradox of stretch goals and discuss the overarching impact of aspirational objectives on an organization’s performance. We take you through the controversial concept of ‘zero harm’ and why it’s so scarcely represented in academic literature.

Episode Notes

The conversation stems from a review of a noteworthy paper from the Academy of Management Review Journal titled “The Paradox of Stretch Goals: Organizations in Pursuit of the Seemingly Impossible,” which offers invaluable insights into the world of goal setting in senior management.

Discussion Points:

  • The concept of seemingly impossible goals in organizations
  • Controversial nature and impact of ‘zero harm’
  • The role of stretch goals in promoting innovation
  • Potential negative effects of setting stretch goals
  • Psychological effects of ambitious organizational targets
  • Paradoxical outcomes of setting seemingly impossible goals
  • The role of emotions in achieving stretch goals
  • Factors that contribute to the success of stretch goals
  • Real-world examples of successful stretch goal implementation
  • Cautions against blind imitation of successful stretch goal strategies
  • The concept of zero harm in safety initiatives
  • Need for long-term research on zero harm effectiveness


  • The answer to our episode’s question – they’re good when the organization is currently doing well enough, but stretch goals are not good when the organization is struggling and trying to turn a corner using that stretch goal.


Link to the Paper

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