Goals & Objectives / Strategies & Tactics
In its February meeting, the Business Rules Group discussed part of the document to be produced later this year, and then had a special session discussing the area of the model that concerns ends and means. Specifically, we worked very hard to refine the definitions of, on the one side, the ends -- the vision, goals, and objectives -- and on the other side, the means -- the mission, strategy, and tactics.
As the discussion progressed, the issue came up that surely there has already been a great deal written on these subjects. It turns out, however, that the people who investigated it found very little that was either generally accepted or definitive. The conclusion was that, if we can actually arrive at something coherent, we may indeed be in a position to contribute to the body of knowledge.
The area of the model at the beginning of the discussions is shown in Figure 1.
Note that an
END may be either a
OBJECTIVE. The idea here is that these are types of things, in
varying detail, that we are trying to accomplish. Correspondingly, a
is either a
STRATEGY, or a
That these should be components of the model was significantly questioned. The question
was, what do we mean by each of the terms, and can we come up with meaningful, distinguishing
Figure 1 --
Area of the Motivation Model
Vision and Mission
From the beginning we were satisfied that vision and mission were the appropriate
heads of the ends and means hierarchy.
VISION is an overall image of
what the organization wants to become. It usually encompasses the entire organization
and is long term in its perspective.
MISSION is a correspondingly long-term
approach to achieving the vision. Neither
is very specific -- it is something broadly stated, in terms of the overall functioning
of the business.
A good example of
MISSION was found with
the Casey Family Program of Seattle. Their vision is that no child should go without
care. Their mission is "to provide planned, long-term out-of-home care to children
and youth, with long-term family foster care as its core." The difference is
between the world as they would like it to be and the specific kinds of actions they
can take to make it that way.
Strategy and Tactics
The discussions became heated, however, when we were discussing
TACTIC with respect to
While we agreed that
END was something we were trying to achieve, and
MEANS was how we want to achieve it, the examples we came up with were
confusing. In fact, some of the conclusions we reached also apply to
MISSION, but we did not address them as specifically as we did the
other kinds of
One significant question that arose was about timing and change of state. Is it
the case that
TACTIC are about moving to a
new state for the organization, or can they also apply to ongoing operation (maintaining
the status quo)? The idea of the
GOAL that a
supposed to address suggests that it is something other than the present state. On
the other hand, the idea of
STRATEGY does suggest that it could also
be applied to maintaining the present state. Similarly, a
be to achieve an
OBJECTIVE such as "Don't lose market share."
The conversation moved to the recognition that all states are simply snapshots in time, and that organizations are always operating in a dynamic environment. The distinction between steady state and moving forward isn't that great. The issue was not officially resolved, but it sort of quieted down when several people expressed the view that this model applies to an ongoing operation as well as it does to a company re-inventing itself. Strategy and tactics imply a change in state, this could be a small change, such as a correction to get back on course to a goal.
Qualitative / Judgment Words*/ ?>
After considerable discussion of what kinds of statements could be strategy and which could be the goals that the strategies are to address, it was finally realized that qualitative, descriptive words apply only to vision and goals.
For example, "to deliver pizza expediently" is a goal, not a strategy. The strategy is "to hire 10 more delivery people." A candidate list of these 'ends words' is shown in Table 1.
It is clear that these words are not descriptions of the
an organization is going to carry out. It turns out that they aren't very good as
OBJECTIVEs, either. When you get down to the level of
detail of an
OBJECTIVE, it is important to specify the
as a quantity. For example, "we will deliver pizza in 15 minutes or less."
Guidance Component and Approach Component
Another question that came up was the difference between a
BUSINESS POLICY, and a
BUSINESS RULE. In the model, a
GUIDANCE COMPONENT (a
BUSINESS POLICY or
RULE) guides one or more
APPROACH COMPONENTs. For example,
BUSINESS POLICY that "pizza will be delivered in one half hour
or less" may guide the
TACTIC of "hire more delivery people."
BUSINESS POLICY that "pizza will be delivered in one half
hour or less" differs from the
OBJECTIVE to "deliver the pizza
in one half hour or less" by the fact that in the former case the business knows
that it is in the position to do it, while in the latter case, it is simply setting
out to do it, without knowing whether or not it can.
Some in the Group contended that there could be circumstances where a
POLICY or a
BUSINESS RULE could itself be a
In other words, one way to achieve certain things is to establish certain policies
and rules. This doesn't seem right to your correspondent, but it was not definitively
However, it was decided that a
BUSINESS POLICY can give meaning
to those qualitative words listed in Table 1 -- what do we mean by "fast"
or "reliable"? The
BUSINESS POLICY defines such words.
Another question that came up was whether a particular
can be directly related to an
or whether this relationship is indirect -- in other words, a policy can only guide
STRATEGY that, in turn, addresses an
It was argued by some that a
BUSINESS POLICY can be defined to address
OBJECTIVE, just by its existence. It is not necessary to invoke a
TACTIC. Others said that a
BUSINESS POLICY doesn't really
do anything. The only way you can achieve an
OBJECTIVE is to
do something (a
BUSINESS POLICY itself doesn't
do anything -- it can only tell you which
TACTIC to use.
Course of Action (New Name for
In the course of the discussions, a new term came to be used frequently. A
OF ACTION is a plan for doing something significant to carry out a
TACTIC. It turns out that it is in fact another name for an
COMPONENT. It contains the idea not of the actions that constitute the
TACTIC, but rather the plan to acquire the resources required to
carry out those actions. Ultimately, a
COURSE OF ACTION was defined
as "an approach or plan for configuring some aspect of the enterprise, in order
In this context, then, a
STRATEGY was defined to be a "course
of action that is longer term and broader in scope," while a
was defined to be a "course of action that is shorter term and narrower in scope."
An alternative approach to modeling the behavior of an enterprise (or any complex system) is to view it in terms of a feedback loop. This is the way process manufacturing is treated, but the structures are appropriate for analyzing any complex system. The principles of cybernetics were first articulated by Ross Ashby in the 1950s in his Introduction to Cybernetics. They were then applied to enterprise-type systems by Stafford Beer in his The Heart of Enterprise.
The idea is that any complex system is controlled through the use of "set points." These are reference values of a variable that is measured in the course of the system's operation. These measurements are continuously compared to a pair of set points (high and low), and if the value goes outside the range, an action is taken to correct it. As long as the measurement is within the set point values, nothing is done.
In this conversation, the set point could be compared with an
OBJECTIVE might represent a future state, or it could represent
the continuation of a desirable present state. It is important to note that an
must be measurable. It is defined specifically in terms of a desirable value of some
TACTIC then is the mobilization of resources to move (or
maintain) the value within the desirable tolerance.
OBJECTIVE has two attributes:
- what is to be measured (along with its unit of measure), and
- the high and low values that define when it has been met.
Note that the same structure can apply at the
MISSION levels. The concept of "set point"
is much softer there, however. It simply represents a qualitatively desirable state,
without the numeric quantification.
We would like to hear your ideas and experiences with these concepts. Please visit our website, and drop us a note.
- W. Ross Ashby, An Introduction to Cybernetics, John Wiley and Sons (Science Editions), New York: 1956.
- Stafford Beer, The Heart of Enterprise, John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, UK: 1979, page 97.
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