Target and incentive design book: GAMED

Why targets and incentives fail and how to fix them

Designing or fixing performance targets?

Need to create incentives that work in the real world?

Creating OKRs but struggling to define your Key results?

GAMED: Why targets and incentives fail and how to fix them

Targets and incentives can drive breathtakingly positive results: the moon landings, the eradication of smallpox, or the repair of the ozone layer, for example. They can also have a dark side that can put executives in prison, bring global businesses to their knees, and even cause wholesale loss of life.

Using practical examples and case studies, this book walks you through the essential steps of designing robust, effective, and credible targets and incentives for your organisation. The approach is also perfect for selecting meaningful Key Results for OKRs.

This book is for people who:

  • Are tasked with creating new, effective, performance targets, OKRs or incentives
  • Need help fixing existing performance targets, OKRs or incentives
  • Want a structured and practical design framework

This book will help you:

  • Create targets, key results and incentives that align with your strategy
  • Build engagement with your target owners
  • Test your targets, key results and incentives rigorously for unexpected outcomes and dangerous loopholes

GAMED includes free access to valuable notes, tools, and templates.

What's covered in GAMED

  • GAMED is based on the ROKET-DS Express, a step-by-step method to help you choose the right performance targets, key results and incentives.
  • Each of the steps is covered in depth, with examples, anecdotes and case studies.

Book content

Using OKRs and ROKET-DS together

Part 1: How and why targets and incentives go wrong

Eight real-world case studies of target and incentive failures

Part 2: How to design effective targets (or fix broken ones)

Step 0: Identify existing issues

Step 1: Plan outcome

Step 2: Match KPIs

Step 3: Identify and engage target owners

Step 4: Check owner agency

Step 5: Set draft target values

Step 6: Targets white hat testing

Step 7: Targets black hat testing

Step 8: Fix Problems & re-test

Step 9: Record and go live with targets

Part 3: How to design effective incentives (or fix broken ones)

Key incentive concepts…

The eight principles of incentive design

Shizzle Systems sales incentives case study

Step 10: Draft incentives, values and rules

Step 11: Incentive white hat testing

Step 12: Incentive black hat testing

Step 13: Fix problems and re-test

Step 14: Record and go live with incentives

Some words of caution

Recap: ROKET-DS™ incentive design method

Part 4: Making it happen

Targets: Smallpox, effective targets, and eating a Jeep tyre

Incentives: Can five pence change the world?

Getting going

Getting support


Target and incentive failure types

Communications planning checklists

Full ROKET-DS process graphic

Design Checklists: Design-risk

GAMED book templates

Free downloadable bonus toolkit with every copy

Templates pack, including:

  • Printable workbook target and incentive ROKET-DS™ Canvas templates to use as you work through the method
  • Fully completed ROKET-DS Canvas printable case study PDFs
  • Excel tracker tool for multiple target and incentive designs
  • Diagnostic cheatsheet - showing the 33 ways targets and incentives fail and how they are connected
  • Reverse brainstorming method guide - the hugely powerful technique for spotting problems before you go live
  • Excel stakeholder management template
  • Design and Implementation Checklists printable guide
  • Printable ROKET-DS™ process summary
Bernie smith

About the author 

Bernie Smith coaches businesses to develop meaningful KPIs and present their management information in the clearest possible way to support good decision making.

As the owner of Made to Measure KPIs, he has worked with major organisations including HSBC, UBS, Lloyd’s Register, Scottish Widows, Tesco Bank, Yorkshire Building Society, RSA and many others.

Previously, Bernie led teams delivering operational improvement in FTSE 100 companies using Lean and Six Sigma approaches. This took him to the US to help paper makers, Finland, to make olefins and Wrexham to package cheese.

Bernie lives in Sheffield, UK, with his wife and two children and some underused exercise equipment.


What people are saying about 'GAMED'

Excellent book, really useful practical guide that you can keep going back to. Definitely worth a read if you need to evidence any kind of delivery or want to transform the way your company operates for the better!


Superb. This guide pulls off the neat trick of being thoroughly grounded in both academic theory and extensive commercial practice whilst also being accessible, brief and well structured. Highly practical, packed with reusable materials and tips, and written in good humour this book stands out from the more complex, self important and ultimately forgettable crowd of pristine management books that litter my shelves. I read this book in an afternoon and came away with a heap of new ideas and practical actions. My troublesome short attention span never wavered. Quite simply a must have for anyone interested in the art and science of using measurement to drive performance. Destined to become dog-eared, much referred to and scribbled in....