Examples of Strategic Objectives

Apr 16, 2024

What are Strategic Objectives?

Strategic objectives create the big areas of focus for what your organization must focus on to achieve its vision of success.They create the top layer of your organizational strategy and strategic plan’s framework.

They are the big business objectives you must focus on for the next 3- to 5-years.

Strategic objectives are often one of the most challenging components of a strategic plan. They bridge your big, bold vision and the annual goals and actions needed to achieve it.

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We’ve put this guide together to show you how to develop your strategic plan’s objectives!

Tip

The best strategic objectives are built from your SWOT Analysis and Vision Statement. Check out our guides if you need to complete those planning elements first.

Defining Strategic Objectives

Video Transcript – Strategic Objectives Defined

Hi, everyone, its Erica from OnStrategy.

Welcome to today’s whiteboard session on defining strategic objectives. From my point of view, strategic objectives are the hardest part of strategic planning. And why is that? That’s because they’re really in between a big vision and translating that big vision into annual goals or actions. And they make the bridge between the big idea and what’s actually getting done this year, this quarter this week. So strategic objectives serve such an important purpose. And they can take a little bit to get right. This is a two part series, check out this one first.

So we’re going to go through what they are. And the other one, we’re going to talk about how to build them. So let’s define strategic objectives. First of all, you can call them anything you want. We’ve heard them called strategic priorities, strategic goals, pillars, planks, kumquats, oranges, it doesn’t really matter. Today, we’re going to call them strategic objectives. And we are defining them as broad statements of direction. And again, they’re little mini vision statements that translate your vision into a bridge to build an annual plan.

Okay, so broad statements. That’s the that’s the idea. Let’s look at the anatomy of so here’s an example of a really good strategic objective. We like to start with a label. So what is it market share or market growth, let’s just say that, followed by a colon, a strong verb, and a statement of impact, in this case, strengthen our competitive advantage or position. Super simple, this is a little bit generic, you could continue the sentence if you want to, to make it a little more relevant to your organization. But you know, quick talking points, one of the strategic objectives for the organization is market growth. And what we’re trying to get done is strengthening our competitive position. Great.

Then underneath that, and I don’t have it fully built out here. But we like to actually build out an intent, couple of sentences, maybe even a paragraph, and this is really the the sense of where are you trying to go with this strategic objective, it really starts to bring it to life. And we like to have three sections in that intent statement. Where are you now, in the context of this, this strategic objectives in this case, your competitive position, you know, strategic plans have a lifespan.

And so it’s nice to know at the time in which you wrote it, where are you now a couple of sentences? What are the shifts that are needed in order to actually realize strengthening your competitive position? In this case, this will help you build great goals and initiatives? And then what’s the approach? What’s your method for strengthening competitive your competitive position. And by that, I mean, organic acquisitive, those types of things. So you could envision your intent statement, having, you know, a couple of sentences here, a couple of sentences here, and a couple of sentences here. Okay.

How do you use your strategic objectives? There are two really great ways to use them. Number one is you’re going to roadmap your strategic objectives by year and what we mean by that is this starts to become your framework for how do you actually build a plan that has a horizon. Now, in agile planning, it’s hard to have a really long horizon, but you do have a direction. So when this starts to build out your swim lanes, your strategic objectives, start to build out your swim lanes for your plan.

The second thing that you use your strategic objectives for are is building out your annual plan. So of course, for each strategic objective, you’ll have a handful of annual statements. In this case, I’m calling them goals, what are you actually going to achieve in the you know, the year that you’re in in order to move this objective forward? And then so on and so forth. So it starts your cascade? So a really nice thing to think about is strategic objectives answer the question where, and then following under that is the what, and then following under that is the how doesn’t matter what you call them? But absolutely, those are the components that make a strat plan go from a big idea to actually something that’s producing results.

And that’s all we have for you today. Check out part two for an example of how to build a framework with your strategic objectives. Don’t forget, subscribe to our social channels. Happy strategizing.

Strategic goals, priorities, pillars, planks, and strategic objectives— they’re all the same thing! Whatever you call them, they’re a critical component of your plan. For this whitepaper, we’re going to call them strategic objectives.

Strategic objectives are broad statements of direction that create a bridge from your vision to the annual plan or goals. We like to refer to strategic goals or strategic objectives as “mini vision statements” because they should support your overall vision of success but break it down into manageable and actionable focus areas.

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Ideally, strategic objectives should be broad, 3-year(ish) statements that address the core functional areas of your organization. We’re fans of Kaplan and Norton’s Balanced Scorecard® which guides strategic objectives and the strategic planning process around four key components of your organization, including:

  1. Financial Objectives: The financial performance of your organization.
  2. Customer: Your customer experience, satisfaction, and projects you provide to your customer.
  3. Internal Process/Operational: How your run an efficient organization.
  4. Learning and Growth: How you support your team members and stakeholders.

Having a strategic objective for each of the Balanced Scorecard perspectives ensures your business strategy is holistic and comprehensive.

Answer These Questions to Create Intent for Your Strategic Objectives

One of the things we like to complete as we build our new strategic objectives is a statement of intent. We include the answer to the following questions as a short paragraph with each strategic objective to clarify intent:

  • Where are we now & where do we need to be in X years?
  • What strategic shifts are needed to get there?
  • What is our approach to achieve success?

Answering these core questions will help you create your new strategic objectives with clarity about what you’re seeking to achieve and what the cascading goals or OKRs need to focus on.

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The Anatomy of a Strategic Objective

Anatomy of a Strategic Objective

Label

Strategic objectives or goals should start with a label. The label should clearly identify what it is you’re seeking to achieve. In this example, we’re seeking to achieve Customer Retention.

Verb

Begin your SO’s descriptive statement with a ‘power’ verb: a strong, action-oriented verb. Think “Create” or “Increase,” not passive verbs like, “Confirm” or “Facilitate.”

Statement of Impact

A short description of what you will achieve and how it will impact the organization. This should answer the intent questions from the previous section.

Building a Strategic Framework

With an understanding of the anatomy of a strategic objective, you can build the framework of your strategic management plan. As we’ve mentioned, strategic objectives are the bridge between your big, bold vision and your annual execution of goals and initiatives.

A Checklist for a Good Framework of Strategic Objectives

  • They Are Multi-Year in Nature

    No matter what you call them—strategic objectives, long-term business goals, strategic goals—they must be multi-year in nature. You can choose three- to five-year objectives—it’s really about what works best for your organization.

Pro Tip:

Annual goals are cascaded from the Strategic Objectives. Check out our guide on SMART goals if you need help writing your goals.

  • Your Framework Has 6 or Fewer Strategic Objectives

    Less is really more when you develop your strategic objectives. Choosing three to four specific goals is the sweet spot. More than six creates a plan that is difficult to manage and likely lacks focus.

Pro Tip:

Unsure how to prioritize your opportunities as you create your Strategic Objectives? Check out this exercise on prioritizing strategic objectives to help.

  • They Provides Company-wide Direction

    The best strategic objectives can be the talking points for a CEO or executive team to express the priorities for the organization this year and beyond. Your few, focused strategic objectives express where the organization is going.

  • It is Not a Mish-Mash of Department Goals

    Strategic objectives need to represent company-wide direction, not department goals. Departments support the achievement of a plan and the organization’s strategic objectives; they do not drive direction.

Example: Balanced Scorecard Framework

This is a traditional balanced scorecard framework. We like this framework because it covers all aspects of an organization and creates a balanced plan:

Strategic Objective Intent Statement
Financial Expansion: Expand our business to reach $50 million in total revenue annually. We’ve been a successful $30 million business for several years, but we need to grow the business to $50 million per year. We’ll grow to $50 million through new customer acquisition and developing a channel partner program.
Customer Retention: Achieve an 80% customer satisfaction and retention rate. By building bullet proof customer relationships, we will improve retention of our customers to 80%. We must shift to a customer-first approach to sales, product delivery, pricing, and communication.

Operational Efficiency: Deliver our products on time, every time.

We deliver amazing products, but we need to deliver them faster with accuracy. We’ll focus on streamlining production processes and adopting a new shipping system.

People Development: Develop our team to create the next generation of leaders. The future of our organization weighs heavily on creating the next generation of our leadership. We will improve retention and create career advancement opportunities for our team.

Tip

It is essential to not use words that you found in someone else’s strategic plan! Use the words that are relevant to your organization and its culture and the message you want to send to your team about the investment the plan is making in them and the organization’s future.

Example: Themed Framework

A different way to think about creating a framework is theming your strategic objectives. Here’s what that might look like:

Strategic Objective Intent Statement
Revenue Growth: Expand our business to reach $50 million in annual revenue. We’ve been a successful $30 million business for several years, but we need to grow the business to $50 million per year. We’ll grow to $50 million through customer acquisition in new customer segments and developing a channel partner program to improve customer service.
Profitability Improvement: Retain customers and deliver products efficiently. We need to improve our profitability by 10% by retaining more of our hard-earned customers, streamlining our production processes, and adopting a better shipping approach to deliver products accurately and on-time.
People Expertise: Build the next generation of leadership and grow our team. The future of our organization weighs heavily on creating the next generation of our leadership. We will create leadership tracks for our people to improve retention and create options for career advancement opportunities for our team.

Strategic Objectives Examples:

We prefer to organize these types of strategic objectives into these four buckets and have provided some examples of each:

Financial Strategic Objectives

  • Financial Growth: To exceed $10 million in the next 10 years.
  • Financial Growth: To increase revenue by 10% annually.
  • Financial Efficiency: To decrease expenses by 5%.
  • Financial Efficiency: To increase net profit by 10% annually.

Customer/Constituent Strategic Objectives

  • Current Customers: Expand sales to existing customers.
  • Current Customers: Increase customer retention.
  • Current Customers: Achieve and maintain outstanding customer service.
  • Current Customers: Develop and use a customer database.
  • New Customers: Introduce existing products into a new market.
  • New Customers: Introduce new products to new and existing markets.
  • New Customers: To expand sales to the global marketplace.
  • Customer Services: Improve our service approach for new and existing customers.

Internal/Operational Strategic Objectives

  • Product/Service/Program Management: To have all product meet standard of excellence guidelines. (Some businesses prefer to list their individual products or services as separate objectives.)
  • Operations Management: Capitalize on physical facilities (location, capacity, etc.).
  • Operations Management: Increase community outreach.
  • Technology Management: Increase efficiencies through use of wireless or virtual technology.
  • Communication Management: Improve internal communications.
  • Customer Management: To execute and maintain a CRM process that is producing results.
  • Marketing Management: Develop and implement a promotional plan to drive increased business.
  • Alliance Management: Establish one new strategic alliance annually.
  • Channel Management: Improve distributor and/or supplier relationships.

People/Learning Strategic Objectives

  • People: Employ professionals who create success for customers.
  • Training: To develop the leadership abilities and potential of our team.
  • Culture: To align incentives and staff rewards with performance.
  • Knowledge: To continually learn and adopt current best practices.

Bonus – AI Stragic Objectives

  • AI Reskill: Re-skill and retool our team to work more efficiently with AI while protecting our workforce.
  • AI Efficiency: Create 25% more efficiency using generative AI.
  • AI Product Shift: Enter a new market with a new product not previously possible without AI.

Remember, these are just examples of strategic objectives. Sometimes seeing an example makes understanding the process easier.

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35 Comments

  1. kats lee says:

    very greatful with the source of information provided to me.it has helped me as a student of project planning and entrepreneurship to do the work in relation to my course assignment.

  2. Joan says:

    Makes it easy for me as a student to have a grip of what objectives are and in particular the way they are spelt out. As a PR student am now able answer at least some questions about PR objectrives

  3. Samsara says:

    This is very detailed, relevant information and very useful to me as a new entrepreneur in organizational consulting! Thank you so much

  4. Mustafa Al Mahdi says:

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  6. Aleizer Jasmin says:

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  10. Amit Vaishnav says:

    Hey there!!

    found it very good and informative. it educates me to set something strategically for the benefit of my organisation and to grow it.

    further more i would like to know every organisation having different departments to fulfill particular requirements. say purchase/procurement, finance/accounts, personnel management/HR. I request you to guide on departmental stratagic ideas too.

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    Regards
    Amit

  11. omwansa charles says:

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  12. Ramesh Krishnan says:

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  13. Hana J says:

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  14. VJ says:

    Thanks for positing. Its really very useful info.

  15. Philip says:

    Don’t objectives need to be SMART?

  16. Suriyanarayanan Raja says:

    A well thought out document. Found interesting and useful

  17. kasuni says:

    very informative. thank you very much. 🙂

  18. Mirriam Lawrence says:

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  19. Nancy says:

    This is very helpful to me especially now that im doing an assessment on marketing plan

  20. Srinath says:

    It was very nice common strategic objectives to start with. Also can add Improve Market Share Increase, Share Holder Value, Brand Image, Customer Satisfaction, Return on Investment (ROI), Decrease Production Time, Increase Quality of the product, Safety Measures like Decrease Accidents, Environmental Measures etc. This will help for new companies.

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  28. Elsie says:

    very useful for my strategic analysis of a Ghanaian insurance company. thanks

  29. Gracious Sipho Masuku says:

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  30. Kay Henry says:

    Can a strategic plan like for instance Operational Excellence tie into objectives and tactics? If so, how?

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  32. Liam Miller says:

    Amazing! Thanks, Everything Strategy, for this helpful blog. I am now knowledgeable about the strategic objectives. I am motivated to pursue my success in the future. Thank you so much!

  33. John David says:

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