Which Comes First: The Goal or the Strategy?


Most business leaders don’t realize that, to be successful, strategy must come first. Creating a goal is a way to measure what you want to achieve as an organization. Strategy is about choices, trade-offs, and defining what kind of unique value you are going to deliver to specific customers in our competitive landscape. Strategy is creating a powerful position within the marketplace.

In business, it’s about getting focused, and staying focused. You can set all the goals you want, but unless you understand exactly what you’re delivering to the customer, and what your company needs to focus on, goals won’t mean anything. Strategy is critical. You have to make a choice about your most dedicated and profitable customers, and how you deliver what they truly want and need. Who are you as a company? If you don’t measure and aim for that, you’ll just be chasing goals that won’t actually serve to grow and support your company’s profitability.

If you don’t have focus, you’re building a company on “ready-fire-aim.” Remember, the tighter the bulls eye the greater the opportunity.

Don’t create goals without an underlying strategy to direct them. The people in your organization, from the front line to your executive team, must understand the “why” behind those goals. Otherwise, they won’t understand the context that the goals are set in, and can’t operate independently to achieve those goals. They will be unfocused, unaligned, and unable to extemporize. It’s critical that everyone in your organization is focused, and knows how they impact company strategy. That creates alignment, and gets everyone moving in the same direction.

That said, a lot of people throw out goals and just take on the strategy part. That doesn’t work, either!  Once you have a focus and a strategy, you do need to set goals in order to measure and support the company’s movement. A goal gives everyone a target; a metric to show how much the company is growing and improving. They provide tangible metrics to see how you’re doing on implementing your strategy. 

So, where’s your focus? Do you know where your people are spending most of their time?


​ The Disciplined Leader

What do the best leaders have in common? The answer is one word: Discipline. A disciplined leader is one who identifies and focuses on the Vital Few: the 20% of activities that will drive 80% of the results. Learn More

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