Describing the “What, Why, Who and How” of a plan allows to give oneself a first overview. It’s a useful first step as it helps you to gain clarity. It’s a first concept, a draft, not yet a vision.
Having this overview often feels fantastic. You’ve moved from a blurry to something starting to have a shape.
It’s also a moment in which receiving feedback becomes a difficult task. Friends will applaud and encourage you. Other friends will be anxious and well-meaning while sharing their doubts. You’ll be confronted with limits of your idea, some based on what you don’t know yet, others based on real problems. Lacking answers can feel frustrating.
Instead of immediately giving up, seek more clarity. The next step is to look at four elements which have a major impact on your plan: Goal, objectives, strategy, and tactics.
Goal: A goal describes what the person or organization anticipates and plans to accomplish. It’s the outcome towards which all your actions and efforts will be directed. It’s more of a general direction than of a measurable and specific metric. What’s your goal?
Objectives: Objectives are there to facilitate your move towards your broader goal. See them as measurable steps or milestones allowing you to move towards your goal. In contrast to goals, they are specific and measurable. You need both, goals and objectives. Going from goals to objectives makes your thoughts quantifiable. Objectives give you a first idea of how you can reach your goal. Along the way, objectives will help you to see the progress made. You could see objectives and goals as interchangeable, but in fact, objectives are a subset of goals.
Strategy: Your strategy is the method you’ll use to achieve goals. It builds on the how defined in the first idea and describes it in more details. It connects your objectives one with another and is built around them. Your strategy involves all the factors that can affect the achievement of your defined goals. Some of these factors: your assertion as to which is the best solution to achieve your goals, the market, and its scope, the audience you’ll address. Also, look at the expectations of those involved, may they be on the team or on the recipient side.
Tactics: Where the strategy defines the way towards achieving the goal, tactics will be actions or tools you can take to achieve the objectives you associated with the strategy. See the tactics you’ll use as whats instead of hows. Tactics still have to work conjointly with strategy. They are the feet moving on through the tactics, while the strategy corresponds to the big wings.
Goals, objectives, strategy, and tactics all belong to the plan. They help to describe the work that will be executed. All are geared towards the success of the endeavor.
The goal serves as the aim which inspires individuals to work efficiently and the strategy serves as the system or means by which the goal is reached.
One could also expand a plan further. That is by also looking at mission and purpose, but they actually have a broader scope than a plan.
Mission and purpose are philosophical aspects the organization has given itself. They go beyond plans in the sense of being the base of the work being done.
If you seek to distinguish mission and purpose from goals, then consider that ‘mission’ is the overall purpose of the organization. ‘Goals’ are the things that should be achieved to attain the overall purpose of the organization. When describing the mission, you will do it based on purpose which is centered around human life. The purpose is very much influenced by values and beliefs. Purpose gives meaning to our actions. Meaning is the “why” of your actions, where the goal is the “what” and strategy the “how”.
While it might not always be necessary to think about mission and purpose for all of your plans, it remains essential, that they are aligned. Without purpose, you can’t develop a meaningful plan. With a known purpose, you can set out to plan your projects. To transform ideas into plans, describing goal, objectives, strategy, and tactics is the way to start.
Expect that you’ll need a few iterations.