A good definition of business objectives is:

"Objectives are statements of specific outcomes that are to be achieved"

Objectives are set at various levels in a business - from the top (corporate) and through the layers underneath (functional and unit).

Objectives are often set in financial terms. That means that the objective is expressed in terms of a financial outcome that is to be achieved. Those could include:

  • Desired sales or profit levels
  • Rates of growth
  • Amount of cash generated
  • Value of the business or dividends paid to shareholders

However, it is incorrect to say that objectives have to be expressed in money terms, or that they have to be able to be measured. Some objectives are hard to measure, but are often important. For example, an objective to be:

  • An innovative player in the market
  • A leading in the quality of customer service

A popular way to look at objectives is to see them as part of a hierarchy of forward-looking terms which help set and shape the strategy of a business. That hierarchy can be summarised as follows:

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