7 differences between strategic objectives and specific objectives

Published on 12/04/2024

7 differences between strategic objectives and specific objectives

Published on 12/04/2024
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7 differences between strategic objectives and specific objectives

Having clear objectives is vital in any company or organization. Setting realistic yet ambitious goals is essential for success. Last week, we explained how to distinguish between an organization’s vision and mission. Today, we focus on defining the business objectives that make them up.

There are two types:

  • Strategic or general objectives
  • Specific or practical objectives.

The former, strategic objectives, validate that mission and vision that have been set as a starting point. However, to achieve these general objectives, we need to achieve others first, the specific objectives.

Graphically, this could be represented as a pyramid, at whose base would be all the specific objectives. This first level would be followed by another, narrower but no less important, which would be the strategic objectives. Finally, at the pinnacle of the pyramid, the business vision and mission would be located.

The variety of objectives can raise several questions:

  • Should we focus on the vision or mission or on the objectives?
  • Should priority be given to one type of objective over another?
  • Is the order in achieving the set goals important?

The key is to achieve the specific objectives that have been established every day, but bearing in mind and understanding that they are just the path to reach a general objective. And it is the general objective that leads to the mission.

In this sense, the proverb that says: “a man can move mountains, but first he has to move small stones” expresses with great accuracy the order of execution that must be followed in the business day-to-day (both in terms of decisions and in terms of actions to be taken).

A company must have a vision and a mission, but first, it needs to have a clear plan of objectives that allows it to bring its projects to a successful conclusion. The following graph represents the role of each of the objectives on the path that the company has set for itself in considering its mission/vision:

Differences between strategic objectives and specific objectives

For proper achievement of them, it is important to understand the difference between them. Thus, a general or strategic objective:

  • Must be achievable.
  • Must be easy to understand.
  • Does not have to be quantifiable or expressed in figures.
  • Must be time-bound.
  • Has to derive from the strategies, mission, and vision.
  • Must be very specific, abstract objectives would not fit here.
  • Must be convertible into tasks or specific objectives.

While a specific objective:

  • Must always be quantifiable.
  • Must be limited in time.
  • Must be measurable through indicators, numbers, and systems that allow its verification.
  • Must be aligned with the strategy.
  • Must be realistic and achievable, but at the same time challenging.
  • Must always have a responsible person.
  • management by objectives free guide

As a practical example, a company dedicated to manufacturing technology that saves money or achieves greater efficiency might look like this:

The specific objectives set are small, defined, and measurable goals (hence the importance of metrics). They lead to the general ones, the step before achieving the proposed mission. An efficient company is one that has both types of objectives aligned with the vision/mission.

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