Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Goals vs. Objectives

Ask the big WHY and discover the PURPOSE behind either goals or objectives.

Business strategy, goals, and objectives are all relevant and important concepts in business management, usually the goals and objectives are set to achieve business strategy step by step in a measurable way. According to businessdictionary.com, “business goal is an observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe. Synonym.: object, aim, intention, end, purpose. The objective is a specific result that a person or system aims to achieve within a time frame and with available resources. Synonym includes goal, aim, intention, purpose, design.”



Goals tend to the where they want to end up, the objectives tend to be the stepping stone to get there. Goals are high-level and Objectives are a part of the goal. They can be called subgoals. Most people who are not used to this language would always argue the pedantic position. Now, very likely there will be something else out there will argue the use of the words and that's ok. The point is that words mean different things to different people. Whether it be a goal or an objective, the most important thing to the businesses is that we can create a strategic plan of action that will be the foundation for growth and success. For example, if your goal is to be the best customer services organization in the world, the objectives will be to have the best customer service teams; to have high-rated customer satisfaction consecutively for x number of years; to have an international accreditation for Customer Service; to participate and win global surveys for Customer Service. To get the top rating from 90% of the customers as compared to competitors. Objectives are a finer definition of a global statement. Goals are the ultimate targets. Goals are split into objectives. Goals are much broader either from individual, team or organization's perspective.


A goal is not necessarily measurable, and an objective is measurable. A goal itself is not necessarily measurable, even though it is a described future state. An objective, by definition, is both always measurable and always an outcome that has the purpose of supporting a goal. An objective is always a subordinate of a goal. A goal can be unchanging while many of its subordinate objectives are changing both in type and in execution. Also, objectives are meaningless if they are not assigned directly to a goal. In general, objectives are more specific and easier to measure than goals. Objectives are basic tools that underlie all planning and strategic activities. They serve as the basis for creating policy and evaluating performance. Some examples of business objectives include minimizing expenses, expanding globally, or making a profit. It is best to find out what the organization / team / department uses and work with that. Goals are - in most cases - expected to be less specific and/or less time-bounded than Objectives. The DRIVE Criteria is for Goal setting. The SMART Criteria is for Objective setting.


Ask the big WHY and discover the PURPOSE behind either goals or objectives: When are Goals and Objectives different thing? When do the Goals have a relationship with Strategy, and the Objectives have a relationship with Strategic Goals. Goals are more associated with the end results, and Objectives are more associated with a specific result. When are Goals and Objectives the same thing? When the organization or business doesn’t have any formal strategy, Goals and Objectives are the same things. In short, Goals and Objectives are same or different thing depends on aims of organization or business and depends on leadership and maturity of owners & executives. So perhaps we could clarify it by focusing on the end result. But something's still missing and worth throwing out there for a future discussion point. The often overlooked element is "PURPOSE" when defining a goal or objective. Asking the question "WHY" we are pursuing something before and during our pursuit will always test whether the goal or objective being worked towards is a valid one. For the purpose of management, however, differences in meaning are entirely purposeful and should not be allowed to just colloquially wander and morph. When you're not concerned about managing, then maybe you don't need to consider the differences.


The term OBJECTIVE really starts out in the publication of "The Practice of Management" by Peter Drucker. He defines the term ‘objective as the larger 'end point.' He further defines OBJECTIVES as being achieved through a sub-collection of 'supporting goals' - the children of the parent objective; and then the story further illustrates that 'objectives' are 'owned' by the 'institution - 'the team' and the corporation, the organization. Goals are owned by individuals as personal contributions to the 'collective achievement' of the Objectives. Either setting goals or managing objectives, don’t forget the very PURPOSE of business, to create customers.


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