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Goal or objective? Explained through an example

Clarifying the concepts of goals and objectives, explaining by example how to set up goals and objectives in an agile environment.

What is the difference between goals and objectives? 


The name is important whether we are talking about business or other part of life. This is especially true when it comes to setting goals. Before moving on to more complex methods such as the OKR model, the KPI framework or GoldenCircle, it is crucial to clarify some basic concepts. 

It's important for everyone to understand the difference between goals and objectives, because without this, we can work less effectively or, in the worst case, even against each other and the common goal. 


The concept of purpose and objective

A goal, an outcome that is consistent with the company's mission, usually achieved over a longer timeframe. 

An objective, on the other hand, is a precise, measurable activity that all parts of the team must take into account in order to achieve a common goal. 

In short, the goals show the direction, but the objectives determine how to move in that direction. 

The strategy defines how staff and teams will meet the objectives. Strategy can take many forms, and it is the most variable over time.


Let's look at an example

The Board has decided that one of the goals to be achieved is to create a more inclusive workplace culture. A valuable idea, but vague and elusive. 

What do they mean by it? That's where the objectives come in!

Setting objectives with the executive team gives freedom and autonomy to colleagues, while also providing certainty as expectations are clear and what needs to be achieved. 

To achieve this, objectives could include: organising a diverse and inclusive round table discussion; increasing the number of women in senior positions by 10%; or any number of other concrete actions that could result in a more open-minded workplace.  

If the team's objective is to organise a round table discussion, they can choose the strategy of organising the meeting with a personal presence, which can be broken down into subtasks (e.g. hiring a venue, sending out invitations, etc.). However, if there is a change in circumstances (e.g. restrictions due to Covid), the strategy will have to change in order to achieve the objective (e.g. to put the event on an online platform), so some of the previous subtasks will no longer be relevant, but new ones may arise. 

The concepts of goals and objectives are often used synonymously. Separating the two helps you to speak the same language within the company and work together towards results. More important than definitions is that the work will be done and the results will be valuable.

If you don't know where to start, feel free to ask us! We'll help you get your team moving in the right direction! 


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