The Strategic Roadmap - Objectives & Goals

October 19, 2018

In this episode of “Generations in Family Business: Past, Present and Future”, Matt Kerzner and Tim Schuster discuss the importance of developing Objectives and Goals and how this is part of the Strategic Roadmap Process.


Tim Schuster: Welcome to our podcast for Generations in Family Business: Past, Present and Future. Our host for this podcast is myself, Tim Schuster, and I'm a manager in the Center for Family Business Excellence, and our other hosts is.
Matt Kerzner:I'm Matt Kerzner and I’m a senior manager for The Center for Family Business Excellence.

TS: To continue on our conversation, a major philosophy of the Center is our strategic roadmap, where Matt and I have been taking each step of the roadmap and breaking it down for our listeners. In our last podcast we discussed vision. How can a company find its vision? What steps can a company take to ultimately get to its vision? This week, we're going to discuss a company's objective and goals. So, Matt, what are our objectives and goals, and how do they help a company?
MK:That's very good question, Tim. Objectives and goals are really what the organization wants its main focus to be. And the organization should really think about what it wants to accomplish and make sure everybody is rowing in the same direction. I always encourage organizations to try and keep it to no more than seven; I use five because that's a magic number, but no more than seven. They should really be thinking about what goals they want to accomplish, and how does that cascade down to the organization for all the different levels so that the folks who actually have to execute it know what's expected of them.
TS:That makes sense. How does a company figure out its objectives and goals?
MK:One of the things that we’ve talked about in the past are the mission, the vision and the values of the organization. They should really think about those things and then say, okay, this is what we want to accomplish. Right? And the next year we want to accomplish is this; what we want to be when we grow up. Right? So what are those major things to get from the current state to future state? And when they put it together, it has to be done in a way where the executives, directors and managers can really set that expectation to the employee's, monitor their actions, and then be able to provide feedback.
TS:That makes sense. So as a company is trying to define its objectives and goals, who should be involved in those discussions?
MK:It's exists at every different level. I do believe that the executives of the organization, the leaders of the organization, when they put their mission, vision and values together on that strategic roadmap, they should take a look at it. Work together to say, okay, here's the vision, here's what we want to do in the next year or so, and then really start putting that together. They should get input from middle management and from some other employees just to make sure that the goals are realistic. One of the things I introduce is called the SMART model. And when you're putting goals and objectives together, you should really follow this model. The goal should be very Specific so everybody is very crystal clear on what the meaning is. You need to be able to Measure it. You have to be able to say that you did it or you didn't. It has to be Attainable. It has to be Relevant to the business. And then what's really critical here is you’ve got to be able to put a Timeframe of when you want this goal to be accomplished.
TS:So what steps can an organization take to succeed at its goals?
MK:I use the word cascading goals. So it's really important to take these 80,000 foot views that the leadership puts together and cascades down. Here's an example, let's say the executive wants to increase profits by 10% percent. Well, a cascading goal down to the marketing director would be increase market share by 5%. Then for supervisors running advertising, it's run 25% more ads. But find a way to keep the cost and the quality the same. Operating efficiency is there that could increase market share and increase profits, so it's cascading. Then let's say a representative works with print media to increase ads without increasing costs so that you can realize this larger goal of increasing profits by 10%. That's the larger objective and goal, but when you cascade down, you're setting that expectation for each level. The critical thing here is that leadership, when they set this expectation, they have to monitor those results and then provide feedback, letting staff know whether they're missing the goal and by how much or recognizing they reached the goals.
TS:Do you see this often with businesses where there's no sense of accountability—they establish goals and objectives that are not being met.
MK:Yes. A lot of it is a breakdown in communication. When we went over the smart model, time is usually missing. So let's say, Tim, I set an expectation and we have a goal and I cascade it down. I’ve got this vision, but there's no follow-up. We set this goal and we’re so busy with day-to-day operations that we never pull out our goals and take a look. We put it on a paper. We go through this performance process, we talk about what's expected, but then I don't monitor. And if I don't monitor, how do I know is happening? So you're asking a really good question. What I recommend that organizations do is at least once a quarter, they review their goals. Meet with their department heads and employees and go through the goals. Go through the high-level goals and then have a conversation about the cascading the goals to see where they are.
TS:Do you think there's more accountability if you'd tell specific people to do things, or is it better for employees to internalize it and then decide to work toward that goal itself? 

MK:Another great question. It's very important to allow employees to put their fingerprints on this. If you just dictate what the goal and objective are and the employees don't clearly understand it and/or buy into it, chances are you're not going to hit the mark. Or there's going to be a little bit of frustration on your part when you're setting the expectation. So it's the first part when you're setting it is to make sure you provide specific directions and be very clear with your communication. Everyone should be on the same page of what is needed, and then you should ask the employee or the department head to really look at the goals, fine tune them for their department. In my previous example, the executives had increased profits by 10%, but really let the marketing director come up with how he/she is going to go through the market share, and then the supervisor, and then what the next person's going to do as long—as it's relevant to the individual, the department and the organization. Then we're on the right track.
TS:That makes perfect sense to me. Thank you for listening to Generations and Family Business Past, Present, and Future as part of the EisnerAmper podcast series. If you have any questions or there's a topic you'd like us to cover, email us at Visit For more information on this and a host of other topics, we look forward to have you listen in on our next EisnerAmper podcast.

About Matthew Kerzner

Matthew Kerzner is a Managing Director in the Center for Individual and Organizational Performance and the Center for Family Business Excellence. Matt has more than 25 years of experience in organizational development with a specialization in assisting family businesses and closely held businesses.

About Tim Schuster

Mr. Schuster is a Senior Manager providing tax compliance services to individual filers, as well as assistance on tax returns for companies in the manufacturing and real estate industries.

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