Goal and Objective Setting Cartoon
In sport, a goal is simply a physical target at which we aim. In sports like soccer, netball or ice-hockey, for example, it is actually called a goal. But even in sports like golf, rugby and basketball, it still makes sense that a person or team is aiming for a goal (even though they call it a hole, the try-line or the basket). There is consequently complete clarity about what we are aiming for and what constitutes success (even though how we go about achieving this success can vary greatly – usually called our tactics).
In commercial enterprise the concept of a goal is similar in being a target at which we should aim but with one big difference – goals are rarely as visual and/or physical to see. The implication of this difference is often highly significant in many organizations.
For a start, the goal-setter has to be much clearer about describing the target. If the words used are vague, unclear or confusing, people will not be able to reach the goal or may become sidelined or distracted or, even worse, head off in a different direction completely. In addition, the goal may be complex and may need much coordination and cooperation between people in order to reach it. This often leads to the creation of sub-goals, or what are also called individual objectives, which can be assigned to individuals but by themselves will not lead to overall goal success until all the objectives with an over-arching goal have been achieved. Goal/Objective setting therefore needs to be carried out with great care at all levels in any enterprise, with lots of checking to make sure that people are “on the same page” being an on-going activity.