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Making Sense of Goals, Objectives, Strategies & Tactics


“Goals provide the energy source that powers our lives. One of the best ways we can get the most from the energy we have is to focus it. That is what goals can do for us; concentrate our energy.”

~Dennis Waitley

Strategic planning will serve as your strategic roadmap, compass, and GPS for your business adventure. However, sometimes we can get bogged down by all the terminology. Let’s see if we can simplify the process.

My wife, Lyn, and I love RVing. Whenever we’re planning a trip, we first decide where we want to go. Then, we chart our course on a map to see what route we like best that will include other interesting destinations along the way. Then, we set goals or milestones for each day. Sometimes we choose the shortest distance from point “A” to point “B.” At other times, we choose the most interesting and scenic routes, depending on our goals.  We begin each day by programming our GPS with that day’s destination (we affectionately call our GPS device Mrs. G). As a result of this guidance system in our truck, we receive continuous confirmation that we are on track and are not going astray. Yes, we begin with a plan; however, here’s the beauty of our system: We build in flexibility for taking new and exciting excursions that we often times discover along the route. Allowing for spontaneity, we have experienced some magical, enchanting adventures beyond our wildest dreams.

I suggest that you build in similar flexibility within the plan for your business. Allow it to unfold in new and exciting ways as you discover unknown vistas, as situations change, or when new trends emerge. Don’t be so rigid that you miss valuable opportunities that present themselves along the way toward fulfilling your mission and vision.

Some strategic planning approaches make this part much too complicated. Again, just think of it like this: Any Goals you set should be in alignment with your Purpose, Values, Mission, and Vision.

A good initial question to ask is, “What themes or focus areas are most important to the success of our organization?”

Hint: Establish goals that will be inspiring and energizing, not just financial targets to achieve. Consider focus areas such as Employees, Products, Services, Outreach, and yes, of course, Financial. Adopt a holistic approach that will inspire your employees and increase the value you provide to your customers—the sum of which work together, contributing to your bottom line.

 “Establish goals that will be inspiring and energizing,

not just financial targets to achieve.”

Lofty goals can be both inspiring and daunting at the same time. With that in mind, you’ve probably heard the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” And you probably remember the answer: “One bite at a time!” This is exactly how you can help reduce the overwhelmed feeling people may experience as they begin to tackle “big, hairy, audacious goals” (BHAG’s), an acronym created by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book, Built to Last.

Large goals need to be broken down into smaller, “bite-sized” milestones in order to get a better understanding of what it will take to achieve them. These milestones are sometimes referred to as objectives, strategies and tactics. A goal can be segmented into objectives, objectives segmented into strategies, and strategies segmented into tactics—in a cascading effect, ranging from larger to smaller segments. This is similar to a stream cascading down a mountain. With each subsequent segment, the goal becomes more refined, more clear, and more specific.

Once you have identified the Goal Areas, ask yourself, “Which Goals should we focus upon in order to improve or make strides in that area?”

Then ask, “What are major milestones that need to be achieved in order to accomplish each Goal?” These milestones become your “Objectives.”

If your Objectives still seem daunting, ask yourself, “What needs to be done in order to accomplish these Objectives?” These milestones become your “Strategies.”

Then, for each Strategy, ask yourself how you’re going to do that. These strategies become your “Tactics,” or action steps. (See the example below.)

Example of the breakdown of a Goal→ Objective→ Strategy→ Tactic

 Goal 1: By the end of the year, increase employee participation by 25 percent in the wellness program.

Objective A: By mid-year, increase employee registration by 15 percent for the weight loss challenge program

Strategy 1: Work with Department Managers to inform employees about the weight loss challenge program by 4/30/16

Tactic A: Provide all Department Managers with a fact sheet about the weight loss challenge program to distribute to employees at weekly staff meetings by 5/31/16

Think of goals more as a process than as a destination. People grow and become stronger as they stretch toward goals. The bigger and more hairy (difficult or complex) the goal, the greater is the potential for growth and transformation, so long as it doesn’t cause people to feel too overwhelmed.

Enjoy this dynamic, effective cascading process for accomplishing your goals.

Much success and fulfillment,



(Adapted from Chapter 8 of my new book Energize Your Business: Engage Your Employees with an Inspiring Strategic Planning Process. Read free chapters and learn more at www.EnergizeYourBusiness.biz .)

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