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In the world of business, it can be hard to distinguish between a goal and an objective, but the distinction is more than a matter of semantics. When discussing corporate strategy, the difference is critical.
While both are tools that business owners can use to compare where they are with where they want to be, goals represent that distant accomplishment and objectives are mile markers along the way. Goals can be as hazy as an image on the desert horizon, but an objective is fixed and measureable; it follows a series of steps or a timeline.
Goals are broad in scope and vision. Objectives are precise tasks that need to be completed for the goal to be achieved.
Concrete and abstract
Strategic business planners set goals as aims they hope to accomplish over the long term. For a chile grower in Southern New Mexico, for example, a goal might be to generate more sales outside the state — a relatively abstract ambition.
Objectives are specific watersheds that mark progress toward the stated goal. Expanding distribution to retailers in Texas and Arizona, for example, are objectives that accomplish the larger goal of sales generation outside New Mexico.
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