Goals and Objectives

In previous articles, we spoke of measuring goals, but we never talked about setting goals and objectives.  This article will discuss the importance of goals and some guidelines in creating them.

                Goals are defined as “longer term, ongoing, and qualitative statements of a state or condition that the organization is seeking to establish or maintain (IIBA BABOK).”    These are not specific values, but rather qualitative statements about what we wish the business to achieve.  The first thing about goals is that they should be aligned with your vision statement.  Every goal that you wish to achieve should bring you closer to your vision.  If not, then your goal is misaligned you will need to reassess your goal (or your vision statement).   The second thing is that the goals should not be very specific.  This is instead reserved for objectives.  Goals will always be at a more abstract level.  Objectives, on the other hand, are at a more detailed level.  In determining objectives, they should be aligned with the goal from which they came.  Then, an objective should always be “SMART.”  That is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bounded.  The reason that it should be all of these things is because it has to have some metric associated with it that can be tracked against.  The objective is what truly gets measured and there can be multiple objectives to one goal.  Therefore, one goal can have multiple objectives which can be tracked via their specific measurements.  We previously wrote about this in another article.

                It is important to define your goals and objectives to help you measure your progress towards them.  Creating the correct goals and objectives is necessary in strategic planning as it helps you make your vision statement more real and provides a roadmap to get there.


Vision Statement

The Vision Statement is a critical component in strategic planning. The vision statement describes in a single sentence the place in which you want your business to be in the future. It is your ideal vision of what you want your company to be. The importance of the vision statement cannot be understated, as it is the guide to determine everything that you should do. Every initiative that you undertake should being you closer to realizing your vision.

The hardest part about a vision statement is usually creating one. In order to help, ask yourself where you want your company to be in the future. There is no right or wrong answer. I have seen vision statements relating to being the number one consumer choice for specific wines, a national leader in country wines (wines made from fruit other than grapes), and the most respected distiller of artisan rum. All of these examples display one thing, a big vision. No one ever aims to be middle of the pack or in the top 50. The vision is almost always something grand, describing your dreams and aspirations for your business. Go ahead and create one, the only failure I have seen in vision statements is not to create one.

Now that a vision statement has been created, what should you do with it? Some companies are satisfied that they created one and they put it in a folder and never look at it again. That is another big mistake. The vision statement should be placed in a prominent place, because it will guide all of your decisions moving forward. Having it displayed reminds you that this is where you want to be. Let it guide all of your decisions. These decisions mainly correspond to which initiatives you should undertake to bring your company from its present state to your desired future state. For example, if you want to be a national leader in country wines, what are you going to do to get there? Your projects should all produce some output that gets you closer to your vision. If not, you have a major problem. Why are you doing something that is not getting you closer to where you want to be? Since time and money are always limited, you have to make the best decision about how to use them. Anything not aligned with your vision is not a good use of either.

Vision statements not only align your thinking as the business owner, but also the thinking of your employees. As the front line of your business in relation to your customers, everything that they do should align with one day achieving that vision. Utilizing the country wine example again, your employees will know to become knowledgeable about country wines. Then, in their interactions with customers they will educate your customers about country wines and extoll their virtues. This brings you ever closer to realizing your vision. It is all about aligning everything that you and your employees do to that vision. When everyone is moving in the same direction, you get their faster and with less effort than trying to corral everyone together.

Vision statements drive alignment within your organization. After creating one, it is important to constantly use your vision statement in guiding what you choose to do. It also helps to align your employees in their actions, from learning and growth to interactions with your customers.