At the next level of refinement come company goals, objectives or strategic priorities. Again different consultancies will tell you that mission, vision, and values each have different meanings and purposes. There is no really right or wrong answer. What’s important is that people have a good understanding of how to behave and how to add value to corporations. Vision usually provides a long-term strategic direction and scope of work for the company and a high-level view of how to behave. The mission gives a shorter to intermediate term view of again the content and purpose of an organization and how value will be returned to the shareholders.

Characteristics of Strategic Priorities

Goals and objectives tend to be more process oriented. For corporations, Donald Sull et. al. found that managers should explicitly state a handful of actions the company must take to execute their strategy over the medium term. Strategic priorities should be forward-looking and action-oriented and should focus attention on the handful of choices that matter most to the organization’s success over the next few years. The “Characteristics of Strategic Priorities” figure provides some detail as to what this entails.

Vague Versus Concrete Strategic Priorities

Additionally, an example set of strategic priorities that were found too vague versus ones that were concrete enough to guide action and investments are shown for American Airlines and Southwest Airlines in the “Vague Versus Concrete Strategic Priorities” figure.

For technical organization three objectives usually stand out. They are: (1) commercialize an increasingly valuable stream of technologies, (2) be the most effective technical community: pick the right projects – those with the most business impact, and (3) be the most efficient technical community doing the right projects the best way – with regard to innovation, quality, service and cost. Another internally focused goal that helped Bridgewater Associates become the largest investment company was to have as a goal “learning how to fail well”. They work hard on being transparent about their mistakes and recording as principles how to avoid or mitigate such mistakes in the future.