After the Mission, Vision, and Values

This is part of a series on strategic planning focusing on the mission, vision, and values. For the rest of the series, please see:

Over the last week, I’ve outlined the differences among the mission, vision, and values statements in strategic planning. While difficult and time consuming, this is only the beginning of strategic planning. I only intended to cover those three pieces, but I do want to give a shout out to setting goals and objectives, the next steps in strategic planning.

Goals are mission-oriented statements that, if met, signify we are moving closer to the vision we have established. These goals should discrete and orthogonal to each other, meaning they don’t have any real overlap. Also, unlike mission, vision, and values, goals require resources and are, in some sense, resource dependent. If we are a nonprofit with a smaller budget, our goals should reflect our means. If we get a sudden infusion of cash, like receiving a multimillion dollar grant, we should probably revisit our goals.

Objectives follow from goals. Objectives are direct and specific achievements we must meet. But objectives are different from everything else in strategic planning. While they flow directly from their corresponding goals, they are very specific and measurable. Objectives are not the place to put wishy-washy statements. Objectives Must be concrete. More importantly, they should measure outputs and not inputs. I’ve seen examples, from larger organizations we the budget to get this right, where the objectives were just hash. For instance, one might say “We will spend 1000 hours per year documenting business processes.” A much more appropriate objective is, “We will document the business processes.”

With these in hand, an organization has the key pieces of a performance management plan in hand. And performance management leads to better-run organizations, that waste less and use their resources to accomplish their missions.

Image by Jon Candy / Flickr.