By Erica Olsen
Identifying Next Actions with SMART Goals

If you’ve been paying attention the past few weeks on our way to making strategy a habit, you’ll know that we’ve 1) gotten ready for the strategic planning process, 2) articulated your mission and vision, 3) reviewed your strategic position, 4) agreed on priorities and 5) organized the plan. And if you’re just joining us, the fun is only starting because now we’re ready to start turning your priorities into strategies, objectives and goals.

Do you remember how I stressed consensus earlier? It also bears repeating here because having goals, objectives and strategies is great, but knowing how they all work together and if you need them all is another story. Remember, “The one concept that most business owners, executives, and managers forget is that the lack of a decision results in more derailments of the mission than any other cause.” You’ll need to agree on a combination of long-term and short-term markers to keep your organization moving in the right direction.

Smart Strategy

A strategy is a general statement that guides and covers a set of activities – the method you intend to use to reach your vision. While strategies are embedded in all elements of your strategic plans, I suggest you consider listing the top one or two strategies or long-term activities your company needs to pursue in order to achieve its vision. For example, Starbuck’s strategy is to build the brand one cup at a time, based on three key ingredients: the quality of the coffee, their retail stores, and selective brand extensions. Keep in mind that with your strategic objectives, your company is moving from motive to action. The strategic objectives define what your organization is intending to accomplish both programmatically and organizationally. Think about answering the following questions as you write your strategic objectives:

  1. What areas do you need to be involved in to accomplish your mission?
  2. In what areas will you continue being actively involved in for the next five years?


Your short-term markers are your goals, and realistic goals should serve as a tool for stretching your company to reach its full potential. With goals, your company converts the mission, vision, and long-term strategic objectives into performance targets. Think about achieving them in one-year time frames; they are immediate mileposts on your way to your vision. For maximum effectiveness, goals must state how much of what kind of performance and by when it is to be accomplished. You should think SMART when creating goals:

Specific – Try to answer the questions of How much and What Kind with each goal you write

Measureable – Goals must be stated in quantifiable terms.

Attainable – Goals must be achievable, or they become a set-up for failure.

Responsible -Goals should be assigned to a person or department.

Time – Your goals must include a timeline of when your goals should be accomplished.

Next time, I’ll discuss putting all of the elements of your strategic plan we’ve discussed so far into action and rolling out your strategic plan.