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Strategy Planning

What are Strategic Objectives? How to write them + Examples

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Writing strategic objectives is part of the strategic planning process. It’s also the most fun and exciting part of it. It follows the creation of your strategy’s Focus Areas and breathes life into your vision and strategy.

The creation of your strategic plan includes various distinct steps and writing its strategic objectives is one of them.

Strategic planning stages and where strategic objectives fit in:

  1. How To Write A Strategic Plan: The Cascade Model
  2. How to Write a Good Vision Statement
  3. How To Create Company Values
  4. Creating Strategic Focus Areas
  5. How To Write Strategic Objectives (This article)
  6. How To Write An Effective Project
  7. How To Write KPIs

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Each article in the list describes in-depth each part of the Cascade Strategy Model and how they fit into the bigger picture.

what are strategic objectives graphic

What are strategic objectives?

Strategic objectives are high-level goals outlining what an organization wants to achieve, with a clearly stated deadline. Strategic objectives populate your plan’s Focus Areas and are very specific.

Each strategic objective contributes to at least one strategic Focus Area and, once completed, is replaced by another.

All of them contribute to the progress towards your Focus Area and, ultimately, your company’s vision. In other words, it is something that can be tangibly achieved.

For each Focus Area, ask yourself iterations of:

“What do I have to achieve to accomplish [Focus Area]?”

“What does it look like to have accomplished {Focus Area]?”

how to write strategic objectives infographic

How to write strategic objectives

Only two questions should concern you when it comes to strategic objectives:

  1. How many should you have?
  2. How to correctly structure them?

And here, we answer both of them.

Find the optimal number of strategic objectives

There is no magical number for everyone.

But there is a way to find yours. It lies in the balance between two opposing forces: complacency and focus.

Choose too few strategic objectives and you become complacent, not really challenging your organization to innovate.

Choose too many strategic objectives and you lose your focus, scattering your resources all over the place. Larger organizations tend to be complacent. Smaller organizations tend to be unfocused.

Here is a rule of thumb: choose between 3 and 6 strategic objectives per each of your Focus Areas.

Put them in order of importance and focus your resources on them. If your Focus Area requires achieving simultaneously two or more objectives, then give them an equal priority.

Strategic objective example structure

Keep things simple. 

Strategic Objectives should be easy to remember and understandable by everyone within the organization. That means no jargon (if possible) and keeping the language simple. Sum up what you want to achieve clearly and succinctly.

Each strategic objective must have at least these three elements:

Action + Detail + Deadline

For example:

Create the standard for quality bikes by 31st of December 2020.

Starting off with a verb forces you to be specific about what you're trying to do. Adding the details makes the goal specific. And including a deadline helps you stay on track with progress.

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How to ensure accountability

The leader of the organization is responsible for the completion of the strategic objectives.

However, more people are accountable for them. Assign and delegate each strategic objective to one person (or two at most).

That person will be accountable for the objective and the progress towards achieving it. Ultimately, as the leader of your organization's strategy, you still are accountable for all of the objectives, but that doesn't mean that you can't share that ownership with someone else.

However, assign too many owners to each strategic objective and you risk falling into a situation where people become overly reliant on “someone else” to own the goal.

Far more people will be involved in the delivery through a series of linked projects, KPIs, and objectives.

But you want at most two people to be responsible for the ultimate delivery of the Strategic Objective.

Tips and tricks on writing strategic objectives

Following this guide should get you off to a good start with writing your strategic objectives. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Don't be afraid to iterate. You probably won't get things right the first time. That’s OK. Sometimes you need to get your Strategic Objectives out on paper to appreciate where the gaps are.

  • Involve the people of your organization as early as possible. Don't sit in a room and try to do things yourself. Define your Vision, Values, and Focus Areas - and use that to help structure a broader engagement with your team about what your Strategic Objectives should be. Go through this guide’s process with your team.

  • Expose your strategic objectives to your people. No matter how simple or well-crafted your strategic objectives are, you need to constantly remind them to your people and have them regularly engage with them. Use a dynamic digital platform like Cascade to achieve this.

Read this article to spark your inspiration and imagination when writing your strategic objectives. It has examples of objectives in the finance sector, customer satisfaction, product and innovation, people and culture, and operations.

Cascade’s strategic maps help you align your strategy’s objectives, Focus Areas and vision. Take a tour of your platform or book a demo with one of our strategy experts.

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Topics:Strategy Planning

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