links together the series of actions, which lead to the final objective. Carl von Clausewitz
is concerned with the policies and ways that an element is used or dealt with.
It also covers its future development which should be subject to objectives
and an action plan.
For success, the
objectives should be S M A R T -
A definite goal to be achieved, not a process to follow. Not
an activity - “we will try to please our customers”, but a goal - “we will have a more satisfied set of customers”.
Measurable: Not “we
will do better” but “our customer rating will improve by 20 per
cent”. However, if the goal is to be 'No.1' in the industry, then does
that mean by turnover, profit, people employed, or reputation?
Authorized: A named
person or team to take responsibility. Often, responsibility is given to a
person who has no authority to make decisions and must continually report back
at a higher level. In some cases, no-one is actually in control at all!
Realistic: Not too easy, nor too difficult, but attainable with effort.
in the industry is unachievable, people may not try hard and the
organization may not make the top three, which could have been achievable if
that had been the original goal.
Time-framed: A definite end-date to be specified with targets along the way. If
the timeframe is too short, then risks may be taken and mistakes made. If the timeframe is too long, costs may
increase and people may lose interest.
The way an objective is to be
achieved often requires choosing a
course of action from a number of alternatives. For example, raising the skill level of
employees could be done by setting up an internal training facility or sending
employees on external training courses. Choices for action should be made using the following two and often quite independent criteria:
Feasibility: The cost, effort, risk and time-scale involved.
Attractiveness: The benefits gained and how well the result fits the
it can be done (it’s feasible), does not mean it should be done (it may not be
attractive); or because it is attractive to do, does not mean that it is
feasible to do (it could take too long or cost too much).