The difference between where we are (current status) and where we want to be (vision and goals) is what we do (target objectives and action plans).
In many situations people use words goals and objectives as interchangeable. Yet, in the context of goal setting, the difference between goals and objectives has an important practical meaning.
After you set your important goals you move to setting objectives. Objectives are also goals, but they are down the hierarchy. They are “sub-goals” set with the only purpose to serve your goals.
To achieve your strategic goals, which conditions should you provide, which resources should you collect, which skills should you develop, what knowledge should you acquire? Is there anything significant you should achieve before you can reach your goals? Express the answers to these questions as your objectives.
Note that objectives are also more than just actions. They still contain some challenge in them. Actions are things that you just do.
For the vast majority of companies, having well-defined visions and mission statements changes little if anything. The process of crafting them is a complete waste of time and resource if visions and mission statements are used for nothing but being displayed in a reception area and the boardroom.
In strategic planning all parts of the process are important, but perhaps the most important part involves developing your strategic and business goals. Much of the analysis you do in strategic planning is designed to help you develop achievable goals that reflect business realities in your sector.
Strategic goals are statements of what you wish to achieve over the period of the strategic plan e.g. over the next year, three years, five years, ten years. In some ways, developing two, three or four major strategic or business goals may seem relatively straightforward. The actual writing may be so … but ‘connecting the goals’ to the rest of the strategic planning process requires considerable care, analysis and logic.
Goals are simply a clearer statement of the visions, specifying the accomplishments to be achieved if the vision is to become real.
Develop SMART goals …
Goals or targets help everyone within a business understand what they need to achieve and when they need to achieve it.
One of the keys to success in developing goals is to develop them in a way that is easily translatable into action plans or ‘actions’. The trick is to translate the ‘big goals’ into day-to-day projects and ‘actions’ that will be required to achieve the plan.
Typically goals are set under three the four perspectives of the Balanced Scorecard:
- Internal Process
- Learning and Growth
- Who will do…
- When … and…
- How long will it take … and …
- What progress has been achieved?
Strategic planning is meaningless without action, and our Action Manager is where the real work happens – where, if you will, ‘the rubber meets the road.’
StrategyPal’s whole ethos is addressing the critical problem with most strategic planning: that ‘implementation is viewed as critical, but scheduled as luxury.’ Action Manager confronts this issue with inescapable authority, making it not only possible but imperative for the strategic plan to be put into daily action.
We have found that even the most ambitious strategic objective can be broken down into ‘doable,’ measurable chunks. We’ve set the upper ceiling of these daily actions at 10 hours (many will be accomplished in less time than that). This has the twin benefits of avoiding overwhelming staff and ensuring that these actions actually get done.
Action Manager also always clearly shows how each action is part of the larger strategy, again keeping strategic planning integral to day-to-day operations.
Here is where specific goals are set, with precise deadlines, broken down by week, month, quarter, or however you choose, based on your specific relationship with your clients.
In Action Manager everyone can clearly see who is responsible for what, when delivery is expected, and how each task is progressing. ‘What gets measured gets done,’ and here is where the measurements take place to ensure that work progresses efficiently.
Goals & Objectives
Goals are broad; objectives are narrow.
Goals are general intentions; objectives are precise.
Goals are intangible; objectives are tangible.
Goals are abstract; objectives are concrete.
Goals can’t be validated as is; objectives can be validated.