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What Are Strategic Goals and How They Drive Business Growth

Strategic goals are long-term company objectives that set a direction and keep everyone on track. Learn why strategic goals are important for every organization and how to set them up to ensure their execution.

In business, the key goal for every player is to stay competitive and resilient amidst constant challenges. To achieve this, leaders must be adaptable, strategic, and proactive in response to the evolving business landscape. 

To succeed in this role, they need to know their organization’s vision in-depth and transform it into a winning strategy. The key components for that are the strategic objectives that will drive the company toward success. 

Without knowing where the company is going, the likelihood of reaching the ultimate business goals gets lower. Included in this article, we cover the essentials of strategic goals, how to structure them the right way, and give some basic examples.   

What Are Strategic Goals?

Strategic goals are high-level objectives that define the vision and overall business strategy of a company. They represent a set of objectives that outline the most desired business outcomes a company wants to achieve for a given period. Strategic goals are formulated after analyzing the current business environment of a company and addressing potential opportunities for growth. 

Strategic goals serve as a guiding force throughout an organization's hierarchy, aligning all levels and motivating employees to work collectively towards a shared objective. They provide leaders with a direction to identify ways and make optimal decisions to reach these goals. 

Well-structured strategic goals should possess traits such as being specific, measurable, and embracing what, why, and how companies aim to achieve. 

Why Are Strategic Goals Important for Business? 

Breaking down a business strategy into goals has a profound impact on its execution and, ultimately, the overall future success of the company. Strategic goals provide a roadmap for efficient resource allocation, operational execution, and measuring progress that informs if the goals are on track or fall behind schedule. In addition, companies can drill down and align their strategic goals to department/ team-level initiatives and objectives to keep the focus on what is most important at a time. 

Moreover, well-communicated and clear strategic goals offer the following benefits: 

  • Improve strategic decision-making 
  • Support organizational agility and adaptability 
  • Provide transparency across the organization
  • Promote knowledge sharing and drive innovation

With defined strategic goals, companies are more likely to avoid generating non-value-adding activities and boost their strategy execution. It ensures that the companies move forward in the right direction. 

Strategic Goals vs. OKRs and KPIs – What Is the Difference? 

In the realm of organizational management, companies use a wide variety of approaches to effectively plan, measure, and track progress toward organizational objectives and drive performance excellence. Some of the most recognized ways to achieve this include strategic goals, OKRs, and KPIs. Despite their similarities in terms of providing a direction for setting goals and measuring progress, they have their unique characteristics that contribute to reaching the desired objectives. 

Combined or used separately, companies can leverage them effectively to strategically align efforts around the common goal.  

Let’s briefly touch the surface of what each approach stands for and how to set them apart. 
 

  Strategic Goals  OKRs KPIs
Definition A set of high-level objectives that represent a company’s business strategy that reflects its vision and mission.  A popular goal-setting framework consists of two components: a goal (an Objective) and a set of measures (Key Results).  A set of business performance metrics.
Application Used to set the tone for strategic management, better resource allocation, and decision-making processes at all levels.  Used by departments, teams, and individuals to set and track business goals and connect strategy with execution.  Used to measure and track ongoing performance against predefined targets.  
Timeframe Annually  Quarterly and annually  Real-time, monthly, annually 
Scope Broader and focused on the overall company’s direction.  Specific, measurable, ambitious, and achievable.   Quantitative and result oriented. Provide insights into past performance.

 

How to Set Strategic Goals in 4 Steps? 

The four primary steps required for effectively setting your organization's strategic goals include:  

  1. Understanding organizational strategy. 
  2. Making your goals SMART. 
  3. Breaking down strategic objectives into more granular ones. 
  4. Aligning company and team objectives with the strategy and continuously monitoring the progress. 

Let's get into them. 

Step 1: Use Your Strategy as a Foundation 

The organizational strategy serves as a guide to writing out strategic goals. This strategy outlines the company’s vision for the future and what it aims to achieve over a specific period of time. These most desired outcomes are embodied in specific and qualitative strategic goals that set the direction to drive the organization forward.  

Step 2: Make Your Strategic Goals SMART 

The SMART framework can be used for setting strategic goals as it ensures that goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, which increases the likelihood of successfully accomplishing goals and provides a clear roadmap for progress. Its easy-to-use concept helps people create goals that are meaningful, focused and bring transparency to everyone involved in the strategy execution. 

Step 3: Break Down Strategic Goals into More Measurable Objectives 

To handle strategic goals in a more manageable way, you can break them down further into smaller measurable objectives. This allows teams to respond promptly to changes whenever they occur on a strategic level.  

connecting-strategic-goals-executionExample of connecting strategic goals to execution across multiple organizational levels 

Organizations are increasingly adopting the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) framework to translate strategic goals into tangible outcomes. The OKR framework aims to support the organization’s efforts in reaching its strategic goals. By definition, OKRs consist of an objective, a clearly defined qualitative goal, and quantitative key results. Once created and aligned with the top-level business goals, OKRs help to measure progress toward achieving the defined goals. 

It is essential to have this interconnected structure put on display because visualization is vital for fostering clarity in the process and bringing transparency across every organizational level. Modern strategic portfolio management software that offers real-time updates and visual synchronization between teams' work with companies' strategic goals allows companies to know their business from a glance and make informed decisions to ensure organizations' success.

Step 4: Continuously Monitor the Progress of Your Goals 

Often neglected, this step is way too important to be avoided. Reviewing strategic goals regularly will tell the management a lot about the progress of the defined goals, identify areas for enhancement, and make necessary adjustments to improve operational agility.  

Organizations that decided to follow Lean/ Agile are engaged in a quarterly cadence called Strategy Review. Its main intent is to review the set high-level objectives and analyze the work performance from the lower organizational levels. The data gathered informs leaders if team-level objectives are correctly defined and contribute to the completion of high-level goals. 

20 Examples of Strategic Goals   

As we already discussed, strategic goals need to be specific, long-term focused with measurable outcomes. 

Note that it is a common misconception that strategy equates to hitting business goals only. This is far from the truth, as strategic goals could cover all areas of business. 

Let’s look at a few examples of strategic goals to prove that.

4 Examples of marketing strategic goals

  • Break into 2 new customer segments by the end of next year.
  • Build brand loyalty across key markets.
  • Enable Sales to convert at least 20 enterprise leads by the end of the year.
  • Make sure more users turn into paying customers.

4 Examples of business development strategic goal

  • Expand the company's solution portfolio with consulting services next year.
  • Increase sales revenue by 35% in the next 3 years.
  • Increase revenue coming from solutions partners.
  • Implement a new sales strategy that generates a 30% increase in sales by the end of next year.

4 Examples of growth strategic goal

  • Establish a presence in the Japanese market in two years' time.
  • Increase the value of projects by 20% and manage growth.
  • Collaborate with three other companies in foreign countries next year.
  • Expand the company's partner network in new global regions.

4 Examples of customer-oriented strategic goals

  • Develop a steady growth of the product's net promoter score each quarter for the next 2 years.
  • Make sure more customers keep using the solution after their contract ends.
  • Expand and mature existing customer base through cross-selling and up-selling.
  • Enhance the system's user experience to increase overall adoption.

4 Examples of strategic goals for R&D

  • Increase the customer base in the gaming niche with new product offerings.
  • Reduce the time to market for new products.
  • Offer a more innovative solution than competitors.
  • Improve our product to be 3 times faster than the current version of the product.

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In Summary

Strategic goals are the compass that guides organizations toward sustainable growth and success. Combined with the goal-setting framework of OKRs, organizations have a complete overview and alignment of their top objectives linked to the daily tasks and observe their progress from a glance.   

Practical tips to remember when setting your strategic goals include: 

  • Create your strategic goals based on your business strategy and vision. 
  • Use a goal-setting framework such as SMART. 
  • Drill strategic goals down to company-level and team-level OKRs
  • Review your goals’ progress on a regular basis. 

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