Objectives vs. Goals - What are Goals, Objectives, Visions, Missions?

S

Sayee Prasad

#1
I read this recent mail by a graduate of one of the best business schools in India(IIM-A)... Set me thinking on what are goals/objectives/visions/missions.... I am all confused now. Anyway, I think the writer was talking about a goal in life rather than an career objective. And objectives would have been as to how he would have arrived at the goal. Any way a thought provoking article and an enjoyable read....Any thoughts on the excerpt below. Any clarity on vison/mission/goal/objective??

/Sayee
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"Makarand Sahasrabuddhe (PGP-1994)

A few months back some of us from the 1994 class got together. We were meeting after a long time and naturally the discussions went late into the night. We were all well into our careers and our jobs were perhaps the most important things in our life. Naturally most of the discussion was centered on what we were doing professionally. At one point someone got started on the question of 'career objective' and then we went into a CP mode with each person describing what (s)he felt was her / his 'career objectives'. The list was quite impressive, as was to be expected, and included

1. Reaching the top of my profession.

2. Become the CEO / President / Vice President etc of my organization.

3. Build my own organization specializing in ___________.

4. Making millions.

5. Working in a challenging environment.

6. Working so as to continually upgrade my skills.

7. Earning the professional respect of my superiors, peers and subordinates.

8. Working across functions like finance, marketing, strategy, HRD, systems etc

These objectives were very diverse and we tried to analyze these to find out whether there was any commonality. That is where the depression set in. We realized that

Objective # 1 was perhaps not realistic since only one person in the world can be at the top. In any case none of us could really define what we meant by 'top of the profession' and what were the indicators that we could use at the end of our careers to establish whether we had achieved the objective!

Objectives # 2 and 3 were perhaps realistic for some of us. However, eight years into our careers, we had not been able to decide on 'what organization' or 'what specialization'.

Objective # 4 was more concrete but we were unable to answer "Make millions - for what?" All we could come up with was a list of material possessions that we wished to acquire.

Objectives # 5 to 8 were the worst. They could not even be classified as objectives. They were more like processes.

We were a miserable lot when we broke up. We realized that each of us spent between 1/3 rd to  of our lives dedicated to building a career - all without a clue to what it was all for. I was reminded of what a friend in the social development field said to me once - "Profession without mission is like prostitution".

I was faced with a number of questions that apparently had no answers.

Is there any way in which I can avoid this trap? Can I not have a mission in life: like the medical professionals who are bound by the Hippocratic oath to save human lives by using their skills and knowledge? How can I make my professional life worthwhile?

I was, to put it mildly, disturbed enough to spend time in evaluating what I really want. I read up a number of books I felt could give me an answer. I discussed these matters with senior people from various sectors - corporate, government, social development and even political. This interaction was and continues to remain an enriching experience. I have realized that these answers cannot be obtained from external sources: they can only come from within oneself. I, therefore, decided to go the whole distance and try working out what I must do. My experiments over the last few months have at least given me some direction and enabled me to take some concrete steps.

I do not profess to have magic bullet solutions. Through this piece I wish to share the process I went through with you all, especially our younger alumni, who can avoid a lot of heartburn by merely thinking their lives through.

At the outset it is necessary to find out what makes you tick at an emotional level. Find out what kind of life you would want to be leading in the future. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses in a cool, critical way. After all this is a self-improvement exercise. Close friends and colleagues can also help in this exercise.

Analytically work out what you need to do in order to achieve your vision. A career with a well-defined purpose will only enable one to enjoy ones works and avoid early burn out.
 
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#2
Sayee Prasad said:
Analytically work out what you need to do in order to achieve your vision. A career with a well-defined purpose will only enable one to enjoy ones works and avoid early burn out.
Hello Sayee,

This is interesting. I have to say that many of us would benefit from thinking a bit about where we are headed. The great majority of people just struggle along without much thought as to where they are heading, and if they do think about it they often feel unable to go in the direction they want to go.

At least you have a vision... That is how I read most of the objectives you mention. You seem to have come to the conclusion that you may have to be more specific, and I think that's what is lacking.

I found a site with some good tools that seem to do the trick: http://www.mindtools.com/ (I am not in any way connected to it) Have a look and let us know if it helps.

/Claes
 
S

Sayee Prasad

#3
Thanks Claes
I would love to be complimented on having a vision or writing that article. But it was written by somebody else. The atricle appealed to me and I started out on what is my vision, my goal in life, what are my objectives. Used the work done already by the writer to guide me, and felt it is a good read definitely for the other members in the forum. Thought it would be a good first post ;-)
 
G

Greg B

#5
Sayee.

Welcome to the Cove. here is my humble thoughts on the matter. It's part of a Diploma of Business course I did a few years back. Hope it helps.

VALUES: Are what you or your company deem as important. Values are deeply and strongly held beliefs and principles. They are often unconscious thought. Right and Wrong, Good and Bad. What are your values? What do you hold dear? Health, Family, Learning, Honesty, Tenacity, Quality, Peace? What would you want people to write in your Obituary?

“Today a great Husband, Father and Brother passed away. A man that thought of others before himself, a man that continued to learn and teach others, a tolerant man, a loving man, a friend.”


VISION: Many companies have visions or mission statements. These are like the corporate values. It provides a clear path for everyone to follow. It describes what they do and how they intend to achieve it. :ko:

“ We will sell the best Hamburgers in the world by exceeding our customers expectations”

· We will be customer Focused,
· Committed to the continued education of our workforce,
· Be responsible to our community, and
· Offer a Safe and Welcome workplace.

GOALS: A goal is an ultimate aim. It is what you want to achieve. It is a destination. You need to understand how you go from here to your goal. What do you need to do to get there? What skills do you require? What time frame? What help? What Cost? Etc

Goal: To be a millionaire by 30

OBJECTIVES: These are the stepping Stones to your Goals. They are short-term goals. An objective is measurable. What time frame and what indicators do you need?

· Objective 1: Graduate Business School in three years with Honours
· Objective 2:: Gain employment in the banking Industry by 2005

The Key to pulling all of this together is planning:

1. Establish realistic Goals and Targets, To achieve x by y,
2. Detail all requirements to ensure goals are achieved,
3. Draft a matrix of events (Timeline),
4. Discuss and communicate plan,
5. Implement the plan,
6. Monitor

Sound familiar? Plan, Do Check and Act

PS: The reason those guys failed to achieve their dreams is because they did not plan to ensure they happened.

Greg B
 
Last edited by a moderator:
S

Sayee Prasad

#6
Greg B said:
Sayee.

Welcome to the Cove. here is my humble thoughts on the matter.
Sound familiar? Plan, Do Check and Act

PS: Ten reason those guys failed to achieve their dreams is because they did not plan to ensure they happened.
Thanks Greg...Very neat post, set me thinking even more on my values, goals and objectives.
Your "humble" thoughts were quite clear and brought clarity in my understanding too.
Plan, Do Check and Act:: Sounds familiar, when, where did I hear this last ;-)
"Ten reason those guys failed to achieve their dreams is because they did not plan to ensure they happened." Or maybe being without goals was like saying they never had dreams, so they never needed to plan to achieve these goals.....
Once again thanks for your post whcih has cleared my doubts and should help me define my values, goals and objectives.
 
G

Groo3

#8
I remember the Annual Quality Congress I attended back in 1993 and one of the sessions I attended which dealt with Teams... I am reminded of that session because it dealt with goals of Teams, an Organization, or for yourself. The lesson from that session dealt with 3 elements "Vision", "Mission", and "Principles" which can be applied to anything from work to personal achievements.

The "Vision" represents the overall direction / goal... The "Mission" the steps you plan to take to achieve your direction / goal... and the "Principles" are those things you live by, behaviors (treat each other with mutual respect, value the opinions of others, etc.).

Anything (a Business, an Action Team, or an individual) may utilize these three elements to try and organize a structured approach to achievement of goals. Very similar to the Values, Vision, Goals and Objectives (or the old plan, do, check, act) posted by Greg. Of course the problem I have always run into is the setting of realistic goals :vfunny: ...

All in all, a very interesting discussion thread. A further implication of this thread might be what is the meaning and purpose of life? or how do individual goals fit into the bigger global picture? if everyone else in the world (or at least a fair percentage of it) wanted me to be a millionaire, it would be so... How do personal goals fit into / correllate with business goals? or communal goals? national goals? societal goals? etc... food for thought.

Thanks for the link Claes. I bookmarked it and will take a look around later. ERL
 
#9
Groo3 said:
Thanks for the link Claes. I bookmarked it and will take a look around later. ERL
You're welcome. I have made extensive use of it myself, over the years....

...as I do with anything I come across that can help me understand how that stuff between my ears really works). Isn't it strange that the most complicated and powerful contraption we'll ever use (our brains) comes without a manual?

/Claes
 
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