How to write a great objective statement (the O in OGSM)

How to write a great objective statement (the O in OGSM)

OGSM Series: The O

This article is the first in a series focusing on each component of the OGSM framework. The goal is to break down the framework, sharing the purpose and development process of each element. We hope providing a deep dive into the functionality of the framework will provide a refresh for current OGSM users and inspire others to consider OGSM as their strategic planning solution.

As the first component in the OGSM framework, writing an objective statement can seem intimidating – you’re just embarking on your strategic planning journey and are immediately tasked with composing one (one!) single statement that encapsulates direction for the organization over the next three to five years. No big deal, right?

Let’s stop for a minute and remember that although writing an objective statement is the first step in the OGSM framework, it is not the first step to successful strategic planning process. Before reaching the objective statement, we must complete a thorough assessment of the internal and external factors currently affecting the organization. For more information, read our white paper on OGSM . This is incredibly important because the assessment will greatly impact not only the objective statement, but the entire OGSM.

An objective statement is most definitely a big deal. But, it’s also easy to get it right once you understand what it is and what it isn’t.

Definition of an objective statement

An objective statement is a customized, business-specific view of where the organization is headed in the next 3-5 years. It is a constant and meaningful reminder about what success looks like upon the delivery of our strategic plan and is time-bound to focus the organization.

An objective statement is not a mission or vision statement, defining who you are or want to be at some unspecified point in the future.

This is an important distinction that will help in the development process. We often find organizations try to include everything and the kitchen sink in their objective statements for fear of excluding some essential part of their organizational identity. Remember this exercise is about the what and the how – the tactical, tangible activities in which you will partake to reach your goals.

How to write an objective statement

The process of writing an objective statement is simple if you separately consider each piece of information you need to communicate when developing content and include key team members for additional perspective.

1. Answer the question: what are you trying to achieve?

Be as specific as possible in your choice of words and remember the parameters of the 3-5-year time frame. This is what will set the strategic direction of the company for the next few years not forever, so resist pressure to include every possible future goal you have as an organizational leader.

Example: Quality, fun food experiences for our customers, compete in “On-the-Go” foods category and dominate snacking industry

2. Answer the question: how are you going to achieve what you want to achieve?

After the what is defined, you need to define how you will accomplish it. In this step, it is critical that your answer to this question connect to the reality of the business. You cannot say you will achieve something without capabilities you do not have or are unwilling to build. This language is also critically important because it communicates to your team how we will reach our goals.

Example: Customer partnerships, innovation, state-of-the-art logistics

3. Combine the content to create a draft.

Using concise, clear language combine the two pieces of information from the steps above into one cohesive statement/paragraph.

4. Seek feedback from team members.

Send the draft objective statement to key team members who understand the intended strategic direction of the company and who can provide input. Ask them to point out what’s missing and test the statement against where the organization should be going and growing.

Note: Steps 1-4 can be accomplished in a brainstorming meeting with key team members, however we highly recommend spending some time on Steps 1 and 2 beforehand as a starting point to the conversation.

5. Refine the statement.

Challenge the length and intent of the statement. Can you say what you mean more concisely? And with more of an expressive connection to the work? The simpler and more connected the statement can be to the intended direction of the company and how employees contribute, the more it will resonate with impact.

The best objective statements:

  • Are clear and concise – state what we’re trying to do and how we’re going to do it
  • Are time-bound – 1 year to 3 years
  • Resonate with the intended audience
  • Connect to the reality of the business
  • Stretch the business past current state

Example: Acme will deliver quality brands that provide users with a fun, memorable experience. We will compete in the “On-the-Go” food category while dominating the snacking industry through customer partnerships, innovation and a state-of-the-art logistics model.

6. Use the statement to continually test the OGSM.

As you progress through the OGSM development process, you can use an objective statement as a bellwether for the direction of the company – and compare your strategies and initiatives. If a strategy does not fit with an objective statement, make sure you’re setting strategies that are in line with the objective statement, or perhaps the objective statement needs to be altered to fit the strategies that you really want to accomplish.

Still need help crafting a great objective statement? We’re here to help. Just drop us a line.