How To Write Strategic Objectives
Your organisation’s strategic objectives,also known as strategic goals, are the go to statements for what you are trying to achieve. They are the key elements of your strategy serving as building blocks bridging your organisational strategy and metrics framework.
A strategic objective indicates a specific goal with a clear outcome and deadline that you wish to achieve. In other words, a strategic objective is something which is tangibly achievable. Strategic goals are the primary goals of an organisation under which several goals are eventually aligned. Strategic objectives are neither too detailed to be overly operational, nor too high level to be relevant.
What is the Ideal Number of Strategic Objectives to Have?
While there is no fixed number, however, it may be risky if you have many or too few strategic objectives. If you have too few objectives, it indicates that you are probably not stretching your limits. On the other hand, if you have too many objectives, it is unlikely that you will be able to achieve them all. The rule of thumb is that if we tie strategic objectives into the bigger framework, it is suggested that you should have around 3-5 strategic objectives for each of your focus areas.
Structuring Strategic Objectives
One of the key things to keep in mind while structuring your strategic objectives is to keep things simple. Your strategic objectives should be understandable and easy to remember for everyone in your organisation. Avoid using jargons and if at all you tend to use them, avoid having them in one sentence. You can certainly add more details, but you should be able to summarise what you wish to achieve simply and quickly.
Use the following structure:
Action + Detail + Metric + Unit + Deadline
Expand our global operations into four APAC markets by 1st July 2018
If you start your strategic objective with a verb, it compels you to be specific about what you wish to achieve. Always try to include a unit and a metric to your strategic objective. This helps keep you focused and accountable in measuring your progress. Similarly, if you add a deadline to your strategic objective, it serves the same purpose.
Based on the size of your organisation you may wish to delegate accountability to your management team for individual strategic objectives. At the end of the day, being the leader, you need to be accountable for all the strategic objectives; however, that does not mean that you cannot share it with others and hold them accountable for it.
It’s recommended to have a mix of two owners for each of the objectives, including you. Do not have more than that as you may end up being in a situation where people become overly dependent on the other person to own the goal. It is fine to involve more people in delivery through a series of cascading goals. But you would still want at least two individuals to be responsible for the ultimate delivery of your strategic objective.
Some Final Suggestions and Thoughts
Using the above outline, you should be able to get off to a good start regarding writing strategic objectives. Here are a couple of additional suggestions and thoughts which you will find to be helpful:
- Do not hesitate to iterate. While you may not get things right the first time, but sometimes you should outline your strategic objectives on paper to figure out the gaps.
- Involve your people as early as feasible. Avoid doing everything by yourself. You should define your vision, focus areas, and values and use them to help structure a broader engagement with your team as to what your strategic objectives need to be.
- Consider publishing your strategic objectives on your company website. It may not be feasible sometimes owing to confidentiality issues; however, for some organisations such as not for profits or public sector, this would be a great way to demonstrate transparency to your stakeholders.