What is a strategic objective. Well, to start with a strategic objective is NOT a strategy. Having a strategic objective is not sufficient to make a strategy.
I don’t care if you call it an objective, a strategic objective, a goal or even a vision. It does not matter. A strategic objective is NOT a strategy.
Having a strategic objective is NOT a strategy. Nor are strategic goals.
Goals and objectives are simply some things you want to achieve.
I might want to own a Ferrari (I don’t – but go with me for a moment). Wanting to own a Ferrari says nothing about how I will raise enough money to buy one, what type I want, or even how I will maintain it once I have one. It is just an empty objective.
A goal is NOT a strategy, even if you call it a strategic goal.
What is a Strategic objective vs plain, ordinary, objectives
While we are here lets us talk about objectives and strategic objectives. What is the difference?
Be very careful here. A lot of people use ‘strategic’ as a synonym for important. So, they are merely suggesting that the “Strategic objective” is in some way, more important than an ordinary objective.
I would also suggest that if an objective is strategic, it should in some way be associated with the achievement of the strategy. By that I suggest that the strategy contains some approach and direction that solves a problem, that positions the organisation is a noticeably different place to where it is now. The “Strategic objective” might describe what that future place, or that achievement, associated specifically with the strategy.
In other words, the adjective ‘strategic’ should be used to describe ‘an association with the strategy’, rather than merely suggesting ‘of special importance’. Otherwise, it is just grandstanding: trying to make things sound more important than they really are. And you would not want to be doing that, would you?
Dressing-up strategic objectives as visions is not a strategy either
Sometimes you come across extreme cases of this. The strategic objectives are so far out there that they qualify for ‘vision’ status. Our strategy is to ‘bring world peace’. It is a great vision and rallying call, but it fails any sense of being objective (as opposed to being subjective) and it still lacks any sense of how it might be achieved (a strategy). Claiming your vision is a strategy is a dangerous mistake. Merely a hope.
A strategic objective can help to describe a strategy, but it is a part, not a whole
Let me be clear here. I am NOT saying that strategies do not need strategic objectives. If you have a well formed strategy, (and here is some guidance on how to do that) you are likely to have some form of sense of achievement associated with the successful implementation of the strategy. This is where having some objectives of goals that are associated with the strategy are helpful. They help to set out the pace of change or the size of the ambition. However, objectives, strategic or not, are not a strategy on their own.
What is definitely not a strategy, is where the strategy document merely sets out some strategic objectives and claims it is a strategy. We will achieve these goals of objectives: and stating them is sufficient to bring them about. Really? Thereby hangs strategy by wishful thinking, and strategy by hope and magic.