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If You Wish To Debate With Me, Define Your Terms

Fuzzy strategic objective is a common issue that has to be addressed at early stage. "If you wish to debate with me, define your terms." Aristotle's advice is equally valid for managing organizations. Translating strategy to operation requires clarity and specifics. Defining strategic objectives keeps the record of what executives have committed the organization to achieving. Generic objective definitions could be damaging because they reduce the ability to implement the strategy due to build-in vagueness. This definition exercise can typically be accomplished in three to five sentences for each objective.

Objectives are a powerful way to make strategy actionable. They provide an organization with specific targets, which when combined, support achievement of the organization’s strategy. In other words, objectives are action statements that clarify how the organization will implement the strategy. A good set of objectives should possess the following characteristics:

  • Reflect systems and logical thinking.

  • Be actionable and begin with a verb.

  • Be inspirational.

  • Be appropriately achievable.

Common weaknesses that organizations encounter when setting strategic objectives are listed below:

  • Too many objectives that could cause loss of focus or be too tactical.

  • Objectives are mostly financial-related that produce unbalanced strategy.

  • Objectives are not aligned or mutually achievable.

  • Objectives are not actionable within the organization.

  • Objectives aggregate multiple concepts (i.e. recruit and develop workforce).

  • Lack of agreement in developing objectives.


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