Mission, vision, goal?  You decide, but then stick to it.

Most planning models include magic words like goals, strategies, objectives, mission, vision. Most successful plans have these elements as they capture the overall purpose; they are the headings under which a plan details what is trying to be accomplished, how it will be achieved and how we will know that it has been accomplished at the right time.

These are all very important elements but before getting busy with the whiteboard or flip chart, take some time out to define their meanings. If everyone in the team is from the same organisation, and there are established planning models, then you may have common understanding about what these names all mean. But if anyone hasn’t been through your planning model, take some time to define the terms to avoid any confusion down the line.

A lot of time can be lost if terms are not defined properly and there is lack of common understanding, we have seen this with a few clients in the past. This is true in all forms of communication of course. Think of the commonly used “lol” phrase in messaging and texting. Just imagine the chaos that might occur if you mean “lots of love” but your recipient sees “laugh out loud”. Or the other way around!

The purpose of this article is not to define the terms, but rather to recognise that they are sometimes used differently and encourage you to identify your own meanings. Many people are familiar with the concept of “SMART” objectives. This helps us remember that objectives need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed, but what about Goals or Strategies?

At Miles Phillips, we are a team that work with a variety of organisations so we have learned to use these terms flexibly. An individual employee might find one definition at work but then have a hobby that includes some planning and find those around them use the terms differently. It’s important therefore to get your whole team on the same page.

Goals, Strategies, Missions etc are all vital aspects to a successful planning process but our message here is to make sure there is a common vocabulary in use and everyone knows that – here, in this context – this is what these terms mean. Take a moment now to define your definition of Goal, Objective, Strategy, Budget, Elements, Resources and Timeline and then discuss with your team. You might be suprised by the conversations that follow…

Article by Frances Fawcett.