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Turning vision into goals and objectives into functional plans

Turning vision into goals and objectives into functional plans

How do businesses transform vision into objectives and goals?

A vision statement defines the desired future position of an organisation. It translates into goals and objectives, which provide organisations with a blueprint to achieve a future state.

A goal is a future state that an organisation strives to achieve. Goals are followed by objectives.
Organisational goals have four basic functions. They are to:
  1. provide guidance and direction
  2. facilitate planning
  3. motivate and inspire employees
  4. help the organisation to evaluate and control performance.
Objectives are short-term targets with measurable results. They can be corporate performance objectives or other relevant objectives.
There are two main approaches for setting goals and objectives.
1. Top-bottom approach: In a top-down approach, senior managers set the objectives based on organisational needs, and then cascade them to lower management. Management by objective (MBO) is a commonly used top-down approach to objective setting.
Key advantages Limitations
– the goals and objectives are tied to the organisation’s mission and vision

– the goals and objectives remain ambitious

– over-ambitious goals

– inflexibility, because goals set at top organisational tiers wouldn’t change as the organisational changes

employee participation not included in goal setting

2. Bottom-up approach: In a bottom-up approach, senior managers ask lower-level managers to set their objectives, which are then reviewed by senior management. Operational goals and objectives determine tactical objectives, and these are translated into strategic goals and objectives.
Advantages Disadvantages
– the goals and objectives are more realistic

– the goals and objectives are more flexible and reflect the organisation’s current situation

– goals and objectives are not always aligned with the organisation’s mission

– a lack of hierarchical alignment with the goals of the organisation

– goals could lack ambition

SMART goals

Turning organisational goals and objectives into functional plans begins by establishing that goals and objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART).
SMART objectives and goals improve the chance of activities being completed, by breaking them into manageable tasks. Failure to set SMART objectives and goals therefore results in a lack of direction, particularly in terms of progress, how they can be measured, quality of output, and reaching deadlines.
As well as being SMART, goals and objectives should be prioritised to align with the organisation’s vision and future strategy.
Watch the video below on how to set SMART goals,[1] take notes, and then read the article that follows.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

In the article linked below, Madison Merrihew digs into the details of SMART goals. Find out how to approach the process of turning objectives into functional plans.
Goals and objectives can be validated by questioning whether they are SMART.
  • Specific: Are they clear, well defined and unambiguous?
  • Measurable: Is it possible to measure your progress against specific criteria?
  • Achievable: How much effort is required? Is the goal achievable?
  • Realistic: Are you motivated and able to achieve the goal?
  • Time-bound: Do you have a clearly defined timeline with a sense of urgency?

Examples of SMART goals

Example 1

“I will have a job as a high-school Maths teacher within three months of graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Education.”
Specific: The goal of becoming a high-school Maths teacher is defined.
Measurable: Success can be measured by the number of applications, interviews, and job offers.
Achievable: The goal setter has an appropriate degree for the job.
Realistic: The goal setter plans to achieve the goal within a realistic time after graduating from university.
Time-bound: The goal setter has set a deadline to achieve their objective within three months of graduation

Example 2

“I will earn a promotion to senior customer-service representative by completing the required training modules in three months, and applying for the role at the end of next quarter.”
Specific: The goal setter has set a clear objective to be promoted to senior customer-services rep.
Measurable: Success can be measured by completing the training module, filing the application, and earning the promotion.
Achievable: The goal setter can complete the training necessary to earn the promotion.
Realistic: The goal setter plans to apply for the promotion after finishing their training modules.
Time-bound: The goal setter has set a deadline to achieve their objective at the end of the following business quarter.

Critical success factors of a strategic planning process are:

  • a supportive leadership culture
  • flexibility i.e one size does not fit all
  • shared accountability and personal responsibility
  • a sense of urgency and effective communication
  • a calibrated strategy that is cascaded through the organisation.

The functions and tasks in the strategic planning process are distributed among strategy formulation, implementation, and evaluation.

Key roles in the strategic planning process are:

  • Directors, who provide a strategic framework
  • Senior management, who drive the SMART goals framework and facilitates benchmarking activities
  • Facilitators who steer strategic planning discussions

Your next task is to create a strategic plan for a business or organisation of your choice.


  1. How to set SMART goals [Video]. Mindtools; 2018 Jun 18. Available from:
  2. Merrihew M. The importance of setting SMART goals [Blog]. Available from:
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