The Difference Between Goals, Strategic Objectives, and Tactical Objectives

August 28th, 2018 Posted by Blog Post, Goal, Uncategorized 1 thought on “The Difference Between Goals, Strategic Objectives, and Tactical Objectives”

There’s rarely ONE correct answer. Ask 10 different experts and you will get 10 different answers. That seems to be true of many things – and so it goes with terms like goals, objectives, strategic objectives, and tactical objectives.

Here is our take on these particular terms.

Goals are big, lofty things

Goals are big, lofty things that look out into the future, in support of the overall vision. If they lean 1 way or the other, it would be slightly more toward the idealistic rather than the realistic (although there should be a healthy dose of each in every defined goal).

Goals are more of a destination and are, therefore, largely immeasurable in-and-of themselves beyond answering the question, “Are we there yet?”

There are 4 major categories of goals. Pretty much anything you can imagine as a goal for your business will fit neatly into at least one of them. They are:

  1. Goals relative to social responsibility
  2. Goals relative to employee engagement
  3. Goals relative to customer/client engagement
  4. Goals relative to profitability

Goals are a foundational component of a long-term strategic plan. They are defined right after you define your vision, mission, and purpose.

Objectives help you measure progress

If goals are largely immeasurable beyond the destination, how do you know what progress you are making toward them? Objectives. They represent specific outcomes you need to achieve in order to move closer to your goals. One objective can support multiple goals.

Objectives have 5 primary characteristics that are easily remembered using the SMART acronym. A well-defined objective is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

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Strategic versus tactical objectives

Generally speaking, if it is in direct support of how you are measuring business outcomes within a single fiscal year, it is a tactical objective that should be included in your business plan. If it is in direct support of a strategic goal or has a due-date that is beyond the 12-month financial cycle, it is a strategic objective and should be included in your strategic plan.

Some objectives are clearly strategic, some are clearly tactical, but often, it is a judgment call when deciding to label an objective as a long-term strategic objective, or a shorter-term tactical (business plan) objective.

Objectives, whether strategic or tactical, fall into one of 6 categories:

  1. Social responsibility
  2. Employee
  3. Customer/client
  4. Operations
  5. Sales/Marketing
  6. Financial

If you do nothing else, do this

There is so much more to strategic business planning and management, but, if you do nothing else, define your vision, mission, purpose, goals, strategic objectives and tactical objectives – whether just starting a business or running one that has been around for a long time. You will be miles ahead of the competition if you do.

The good news is you can do this and more with Plan Canvas – simply and effectively. Contact us for a demo or assistance.

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