Strategy is Vital for Achieving Goals

The following article is excerpted from a lecture by Prem Chopra at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga in September 2006. The text of the entire lecture can be found in Masters of the Game: Reaching Beyond the Nexus to Success and Happiness.

Phase II of Purposeful Action – Goals and Strategy

Phase II of Purposeful Action involves planning and performing the action. This phase consists of six steps. This is when the archer aims and releases the arrow.

The first step of Phase II, which is the Fourth Step of Purposeful Action, is to set a Goal that represents the accomplishment of the mission to which you committed in Step 3. You may set a single clear goal, or a series of inter-dependent goals. The vision you formed in Step 1 is not a goal. Goals are specific and measurable, like milestones on your journey to your vision. Your dream is not a goal. For example, as a product manager, goals might be how many units of a product you will sell, how many you must produce, and what standards of quality your products will meet. On the financial side, goals might include sales revenue, which is a function of the quantity and price of units, operating income or net income, even though these measures are a consequence of the revenues and expenses.

In reality, there are many levels of interrelated goals in an organization. The overall success of an organization can be jeopardized if customers return defective products and new prospects refuse to buy. The collective achievement of all organizational goals represents the success of the action and thus of the organization. Another way of saying this is that the success of an organization depends upon the collective and synchronous achievement of the goals of each organizational element.

Having set goals, you need to determine the most effective way to achieve them. This is a simple definition of Strategy, which is the Fifth Step of Purposeful Action. Strategy is the most effective way to get to where you want to go. Like goals, there are many levels of interrelated strategies in an organization. Examples are corporate strategy, financial strategy, marketing strategy, product strategy, and even exit strategy. Each level or area of strategy addresses the corresponding goals. Strategy is of vital importance in the accomplishment of purposeful action for any individual or organization. Strategic decision-making is an essential attribute for leaders, managers and entrepreneurs.

How do you get somewhere? Do you go alone? Do you take an airplane? Or, do you take a boat? For example, in the 1st Gulf War the U.S. had a strategy to use overwhelming force, and the allied forces moved into Kuwait over land, sea and air. Strategy is the most effective way to get to where you want to go in order to succeed with your plan. There are a many good books on strategy. Clausewitz was a great strategist, and many military writers have written on strategy because war is all about strategy.

You also need a strategy for quality. What quality strategy should manufacturers use? Should they inspect all units, or just a sample? Should they allow a certain number of defective units to be sold if it is cheaper to replace them than to improve the entire production and inspection process? Should they inspect the raw materials and components or inspect only finished goods at the end of the assembly line?

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