What comes first, the Strategy or the goal? And where do the objectives fit in?
Business strategy connects the goals with the objectives.
Strategy at the SME business unit level is concerned with competing successfully in individual markets, and it addresses the question, “How do we win in this market?” The organisation’s leaders work towards conceiving the strategies, identifying the supporting objectives that will direct the business to the principal company goal.
Let’s work through an example so we can understand the thought process and logical steps. Imagine that I decided to run a marathon…
Firstly, I would need a goal – this will be a statement of the desired end target:
- Goal – In 12 months I’m going to run a marathon in under 4hours & 16 minutes.
So how do I approach achieving this goal? Just turning up on the day with a new pair of running shoes will probably leave me in the gutter after about two miles. I need a strategy that identifies the approach needed to run the marathon. My statement needs to identify the major actions but it should not list the details describing specifically how those actions will be implemented.
- Strategy – In 12 months I’m going to run a marathon in under 4 hours & 16 minutes. I will implement a phased training schedule to develop my running endurance, enlist a running coach to focus on cardio vascular fitness whilst diversifying my diet to promote healthy eating.
I now need to make the strategy work to achieve my goal, but how? I need objectives (actions). Each objective needs to be a specific and measurable action that leads directly to the broader goal. I will need to formulate separate objectives to meet all requirements of the strategy. Those objectives can be expanded on to include greater detail and levels of measurement
- Objective (1) – As part of my goal to achieve running a marathon in 12 months time and in under 4hours & 16 minutes, starting at month 1 I will complete an acclimatising phase of road training for 3 months. These sessions will consist of a walk (30 minutes) to jogging (30 minutes) interval training, building endurance to complete a 40 minute none stop jog at the end of the 3-month period.
- Objective (2) – As part of my goal to achieve running a marathon in 12 months time and in under 4hours & 16 minutes, starting at month 4 I will complete a building-up phase of road training for the next 3 months, working towards completing a 12 Mile run, to increase both endurance and distance.
I can continue formulating specific objectives until I have completed the needs for the strategy. Each objective can be developed further into a series of tactics to include – running routes, measuring devices, dietary ingredients etc.
The above example has defined my Goal, given me a strategy to reach it and started to formulate my objectives, enabling me to start making it happen.
All I need now is the running shoes!