Examples of Strategic Objectives

May 20, 2021

What is a Strategic Objective?

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

Strategic objectives establish the boundaries for what your organization’s effort must focus on. They create the top layer of your strategic plan’s framework, articulating what you’ll focus on to achieve your vision of success.

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

Strategic priorities, pillars, planks, 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 objectives as “mini vision statements” because they should support your overall vision of success but break it down into manageable and actionable focus areas.

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 to address the people and skills, operations, growth or customers and financial areas of your organization—and having an SO in each of the Balanced Scorecard perspectives ensures your plan is focusing on the core aspects of your business (people, process, customers and financial).

Answer These Questions to Create Intent for Your Strategic Objectives

One of the things we like to complete as we build a strategic objective 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 shifts are needed to get there?
  • What is our approach to achieve success?

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

The Anatomy of a Strategic Objective

Label

We always like to 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 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

    Strategic objectives need to be multi-year in nature: they’ll take several years to achieve. You can choose three- to five-year objectives—it’s really about what works best for your organization.

👍 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. We really believe three to four is the sweet spot. More than six creates a plan that is difficult to manage and likely lacks focus.

👍 Tip

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

  • It 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 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 new customer acquisition and developing a channel partner program.
Customer Retention: Achieve an 80% customer 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 Excellence: 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

Don’t 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 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 new customer acquisition and developing a channel partner program.
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.

Example of Strategic Objectives:

We prefer to organize these 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.

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

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Comments

34 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:

    very interesting and useful

  5. Adaobi Osanebi says:

    Very informative and educative!

  6. Aleizer Jasmin says:

    This would really help me in my Strategic Management paper. Thank you!

  7. Aleck Chipenyu says:

    this is useful information. i have benefited from it on my studies and strategic objectives planning in my small business.

  8. Andile Ngcobo says:

    Thank You 🙂

  9. Tabeth Rashirai says:

    Thank you for sharing such helpful information. I have learnt a lot:-)

  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.

    Thanks a ton..

    Regards
    Amit

  11. omwansa charles says:

    very useful information for strategic planning. the information has assisted me greatly to review ma companys’ strategic plan

  12. Ramesh Krishnan says:

    This is great stuff!!!

  13. Hana J says:

    Thanks! Very concise and helpful!

  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:

    I find this very helpful and just in time for my strategic assignment. Thank you and continue providing such information.

  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.

  21. Maria Saldivar says:

    Thank you so much! I found this article very much helpful to complete my strategy-management assignment.

  22. odina says:

    thanksyouve helpd me through to answermy appraisal form atwork

  23. Richard Boyi says:

    Splendid. Really needed this to improve services for my starting business. Sincerely grateful. Keep it up!

  24. Esesua Henrietta Adeyemi says:

    This was very insightful and helpful. Thanks

  25. sylvia says:

    This was very helpful . Sincere thanks

  26. Daniel Santana says:

    Really a great stuff as it has helped me as a fresh entrepreneur. Thanks a lot.

  27. sajjad karim says:

    i am glad to see that kind of techniques. these are helpful for a entrepreneur.

  28. Elsie says:

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

  29. Gracious Sipho Masuku says:

    very insightful read, thank you

  30. Kay Henry says:

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

  31. Waldo says:

    Spectacular work <3 very helpful for my studies. Thoroughly enjoyed

  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!

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