The Difference Between Goals, Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics

Goals are essential for businesses to target growth and inspire it across the company to every department and employee. Many companies use goals and objectives interchangeably, making goal progression challenging and possibly causing them to abandon goals. There are many tactics that companies and growth teams can use to help them to create stronger goals and communicate better with employees to guide them through goal progression. 

In this Article:

What Is the GOST Model? 

The GOST model is a business model to help companies manage and complete new initiatives, and it stands for goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics. Specifically, this model allows companies to learn the difference between the different methods to optimize work efforts. 

Using the GOST model helps break down the difference between outcomes and actions. Under GOST, goals are outcomes that businesses strive for, while objectives, strategies, and tactics are all actions companies can take to help reach that outcome. 

What Is a Goal? 

For businesses, goals are broad, long-term outcomes that are reasonable to achieve within a time frame and with available resources. Because goals are often very open-ended, they leave room for separate departments and teams to develop specific actions to help reach these outcomes. 

Goals help connect improvement efforts with company values and vision. Executives can look at what the company stands for and its purpose and use that to connect to business planning and company growth. For example, if a company values its customers and serves them in the best way possible, it might make it a goal to improve customer experience over the next year. 

The Difference Between Goals and Objectives 

When developing a solid business plan and ambitious goals, you will need to understand goals versus objectives in strategic planning. In the GOST model, companies need to split factors into two groups ‚ÄĒ ‚Äúwhat‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúhow.‚ÄĚ Both goals and objectives fall under ‚Äúwhat,‚ÄĚ but the difference between them can help steer companies in the right direction and achieve their goals.¬†

While goals outline the desired result for a company, objectives are the specific actions or steps businesses need to take to reach their goal. Usually, objectives have measurable data you can use to quantify success. If companies have the goal to improve brand awareness, some objectives might include increasing brand recognition in a certain market segment by 20%. Objectives help provide guidance to very broad goals that lack specific details. 

Types of Goals 

Goals can help companies accomplish many outcomes, so understanding the different types of goals can help you know how to categorize and label your goals to better communicate with employees. Some goal types include: 

  • Outcome-oriented goals:¬†This type of goal focuses primarily on the desired outcome. It might lack a hard deadline, with due dates and time frames worked into objectives, strategies, and tactics instead to keep your team moving and motivated. This goal type is incredibly impactful if your company is trying to implement changes in vision or values. An example would be to increase customer loyalty.
  • Time-based goals:¬†Time-based goals are one of the more common goal types. They give companies a specific time frame they need to adhere to, which will influence objectives, strategies, and tactics. Time-based outcomes are great to work toward short-term and long-term goals and help teams determine what they need to prioritize. A time-based goal could be to expand your customer base by the next quarter.
  • Process-oriented goals:¬†This goal type is less common. Companies use this goal when they want to implement new processes or workflows for employees. Instead of aiming to add a new workplace habit, these goals usually lack a specific outcome, and objectives aim to guide employees through daily tasks. These goals are common during transitional periods, like changes in leadership or management, to help employees adjust. You might set a goal to communicate with your design team to discuss branding changes.

While you can create many types of goals, these three general types can help you narrow your goal focus on the outcome type. You can then understand how to focus your daily efforts on objectives, strategies, and tactics. 

Tips for Developing a Goal 

While goal setting can help companies get on the right track toward improvements, using good skills when creating the goal helps increase its success and impact. Some tips to consider include: 

  • Setting a time frame:¬†Time frames are¬†powerful motivation and planning tools¬†when establishing goals. Open-ended goals are less actionable because teams can keep pushing objectives back to focus on other things. Due dates and deadlines help set priorities and create a sense of urgency for employees to work toward their goals.¬†
  • Outlining its connection to values:¬†As you begin to implement goals across your company, help increase success by clearly establishing the outcome’s connection to company values and vision. When employees understand how their efforts connect to their enterprise’s mission and growth, they can feel more invested in working toward the goal.
  • Determining how to measure goal success:¬†Since goals are broad, you will need a method to know when you have accomplished your goal. Gathering data and metrics can help track progress to adjust timelines or make more actionable objectives, strategies, and tactics. Use quantitative data like reports and analytics for launch successes, or gather customers’ and employees’ opinions to receive qualitative information. Further, you can use this data after completing goals to make more accurate and achievable objectives and timelines.¬†

What Is an Objective? 

Objectives are directives implemented by companies that help them work toward a goal. While goals are very broad and long-term, objectives become more specific, breaking goals down into more explicit directions by providing quantitative measurements. Objectives can provide departments with tracks to follow to accomplish the overall company goal. 

Like goals, objectives fall under the ‚Äúwhat‚ÄĚ category in the GOST model. While goals help companies answer what they want to achieve, objectives allow them to determine what they need to do to reach that outcome. You can apply objectives to many areas. Departments, teams, and individuals can set unique objectives to help keep them on track for results and deadlines.¬†

Many employees and companies use the terms ‚Äúgoals‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúobjectives‚ÄĚ interchangeably, making it challenging to understand the importance of both terms. When implementing goals, take the chance to highlight the difference between goals and objectives. This effort can help employees understand how they need to interact with goals and objectives, creating more effective workplaces.¬†

The Difference Between Objectives and Strategies 

When developing objectives, you can help your employees create stronger objectives by highlighting the difference between objectives and strategies. While objectives are the measurable steps you take to achieve a strategy, strategies are the approaches you take to achieve a goal. 

If the overall goal is to improve brand awareness and one of the objectives is to increase brand recognition by 20% in a specific community, some strategies might include developing brand voices that effectively communicate with this group and learning where this market segment is most active online. Like objectives, strategies help to make actions more specific for departments, teams, and individuals so they can provide better progress toward the goal. 

Tips for Developing an Objective 

As you can with goals, you can use tips and tricks to make strong, actionable objectives for your company. Objectives help guide teams and departments in completing overall goals and set them along the right path. So, coming up with practical objectives to help them better understand goals is essential. Some tips to consider include: 

  • Using SMART objectives:¬†SMART stands for¬†specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Use these factors to help differentiate objectives from goals and ensure you are creating more specific and effective objectives. Each element prompts you to include unique and helpful information, so you can make comprehensive objectives that cover more information.¬†
  • Creating multiple objectives:¬†You can have various objectives for one goal, especially if you are working with or for multiple groups. Create several objectives aimed at specific departments or teams so they can better understand how they can contribute to the goal’s progress. If your goals involve customers, you can even make different objectives aimed at different target audiences for more specific actions. You might want to increase brand recognition by 20% among millennials and improve brand outreach with baby boomers.¬†
  • Working with employees:¬†Create more effective objectives for your departments and teams by working with them during the objective creation process. Some companies like to leave objective creation to strategists, but communicating with employees who will implement the objectives can help make stronger, more effective objectives that reflect department or team resources and limitations. This step feeds into creating attainable and relevant objectives for different teams.
  • Outlining connection to the goal:¬†While goals connect to your company’s vision or values, objectives link to the goal. Highlighting this connection can help teams and departments better understand how their actions under the objective will contribute to the desired outcome.¬†

Integrating good habits when creating objectives can help employees understand what they can do to help the company achieve its goals. By explicitly outlining actions and the connection to the goal, you can separate the misunderstanding between goals and objectives, making the distinction clearer. 

What Is a Strategy? 

While goals and objectives make up the ‚Äúwhat‚ÄĚ category under the GOST model, strategy is the first under the ‚Äúhow‚ÄĚ section. A strategy is a specific plan you’ll use to meet objectives and goals. Like objectives, they are very specific, though these provide more details about how your teams and departments will achieve goals through particular actions.¬†

Strategies are often solutions to specific problems, helping create to-do lists and action plans teams and departments can follow. 

The Difference Between Strategies and Tactics 

As you move along the GOST model, your actions get more specific and individualized. Strategies outline how you plan to carry out your objectives, providing departments and teams with more information about how to go about meeting their objectives. Tactics are the specific actions required to complete the strategy. 

To understand how strategies and tactics fit into the GOST model, let’s return to our previous example. Our goal is to improve company brand awareness, and our objective is to increase brand recognition by 20% for a specific demographic. If one strategy is to understand where your target audience is present, then tactics might be assigning individual employees to research one social media platform’s demographic.¬†

Strategies help provide companies with specific information and results they can use to work toward their goal’s success.¬†

Types of Strategies 

Since strategies help create specific paths teams and departments can take, strategic planning helps companies achieve their goals. You can use different types of business strategies to help organize your efforts and answer different kinds of goals and objectives. Two main types of strategies include: 

  • Corporate-level strategies:¬†When higher-up company managers make strategies to help the business achieve goals, they become corporate-level strategies. These are usually more comprehensive than other strategies because they need to address many departments. Corporate-level strategies are great for goals that work with overall company growth, changes in management or leadership, diversification efforts, and investment opportunities.¬†
  • Functional-level strategies:¬†While corporate-level strategies are widespread, functional-level strategies are specific to departments or teams and come directly from department managers. Like most strategies, they help give departments direction on other company or department goals. You can find these strategies across all departments, including HR, finance, and marketing.¬†

Tips for Developing a Strategy 

As you begin to incorporate strategies into your plans, you can help your teams by creating robust strategies with the following tips: 

  • Using strategic themes:¬†Strategic themes are groupings to¬†help companies organize and compartmentalize¬†strategies, especially when working with multiple teams and departments. You can group strategies under the various categories, so employees and teams working on those strategies can better locate and organize actions and plans. Create unique themes that fit your specific strategy and goal. Some common themes include growth, finance, safety, and quality.¬†
  • Creating diverse teams:¬†Include all departments or team members needed to carry out the various plans and tactics when developing strategies. A specific strategy might involve a particular department. But you may find that certain aspects of the project require people with skills from another department. Applying these departments and creating diverse teams can help your company efficiently and accurately carry out strategies.¬†
  • Developing several strategies:¬†Because goals and objectives are broader, you might need several strategies to create a comprehensive and effective plan that meets your goal and objective requirements. Each strategy can provide your company with different information and allow you to work with other teams and departments. That tactic creates more detailed results and a more accurate plan on how you can reach your company’s goal.¬†
  • Analyzing strategy success:¬†While using good tips to create strategies is essential, you can determine what is a good strategy by analyzing its success after meeting your goal. Look at how well it met your initial timeline, any road bumps you encountered, communication methods, and information learned through that strategy. Analysis can help pinpoint inefficient or ineffective strategies and highlight ones that worked well for your team so you can know which ones to use in the future.¬†

Creating strong strategies helps teams and departments understand what they need to do to contribute to objectives and goals. Incorporating smart tips and tricks into the strategy development and assessment stages helps ensure you give teams everything they need to work toward company goals successfully. 

What Is a Tactic? 

Tactics are the individual actions that contribute to strategies. They help companies and teams break down strategies into actionable tasks they can designate to specific people and assign due dates to, allowing them to create a more accurate timeline of project progress. 

In the GOST model, tactics are the most specific and individualized tasks, and they make up the second half of the ‚Äúhow‚ÄĚ category alongside strategies.¬†¬†

For example, if your strategy is to create a website, your tactics might include designing various pages, writing content, and securing a domain. It adds more details to your strategy and breaks down your goal into the smallest steps. 

The Difference Between Goals, Objectives, Strategies and Tactics 

Goals are broad, long-term outcomes that are reasonable to achieve within a time frame and with available resources. Objectives are specific and break down goals into more explicit directions by providing quantitative measurements. A strategy is a specific plan you’ll use to meet objectives and goals. Like objectives, tactics break down strategies into individual actions.

Tips for Developing a Tactic

Tactics are essential for strategy success. Solid and effective tactics can help you accomplish goals and objectives, even in the face of weaker strategies. Like the other factors in the GOST model, researching and incorporating tips can help you create quality tactics that help your teams progress toward your strategies, objectives, and goals. Try these tips for developing business tactics: 

  • Explaining relevance to GOST:¬†For tactics to be successful, they need to align with your strategies. Highlighting how they fit into your strategies, objectives, and goals can help development teams ensure they come up with effective tactics for those strategies. It can then be easier for teams and individuals to understand how their actions will influence overall company growth and initiatives.¬†
  • Considering strengths and weaknesses:¬†Think about the skills and strengths needed to complete tactics efficiently and successfully. You can match skills and strengths with team members that possess them, resulting in high-quality tactic completion that contributes to your goal. Considering strengths can also highlight where you might need to bring in employees from other teams and departments.¬†
  • Understanding competition’s tactics:¬†A great way to create successful tactics is to see what your competition is doing for similar strategies and goals. You can see how they translate goals to your industry and target audience and find a way your tactics can stand out. Use this tip to meet customer and industry expectations while catering to your niche and progressing toward your goal.¬†

Organizing your tactics and clearly communicating with your teams can help relay expectations with individuals, helping them understand which tactics they need to complete. 

Need Help Setting Goals, Objectives, Strategies or Tactics? 

Establishing strategic goals and objectives can help companies promote improvement, while strong strategies and tactics can give departments, teams, and individuals the direction they need to make success possible. Understanding GOST strategic planning can help you educate your employees on the differences between goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics while creating influential tracks toward success. 

At AchieveIt, we dedicate ourselves to helping companies accomplish their goals. Our intuitive platform can help you save on manual labor and progress toward your goal more efficiently with automatic update prompts. 

When you partner with AchieveIt, you can reach your goals while experiencing increased visibility and collaboration across your company. We will pair you with a consultant and customer success manager who will help guide you through goal progression and advise you toward success.¬†We serve several industries, allowing us to understand your company’s needs and goals better for stronger advice and goal success.¬†

Request a free demo from AchieveIt today and discover how we can help your business reach its goals. 


Meet the Author  Chelsea Damon

Chelsea Damon is the Content Strategist at AchieveIt. When she's not publishing content about strategy execution, you'll likely find her outside or baking bread.

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