• Jim Payne

Confusing Goals with Strategy

This Harvard Business Report article https://hbr.org/2017/11/many-strategies-fail-because-theyre-not-actually-strategies points out the problem of confusing goals with strategy. If you get it wrong, execution becomes neigh on impossible because goals are a result that you would like to achieve and not a real strategy on how to achieve some goal.


An example of a goal masquerading as a strategy might be “We want to be number one in our industry”. There is no actionable strategy in this goal statement and therefore no thought of what it takes to make the goal happen. A strategy statement on the other hand might say something like “We will focus our marketing on retired baby boomers who do X activity and provide them with Y product that produces Z emotion.” A strategic statement communicates the “how” rather than the “where” that a company plans to go.


There are lots of ways to becoming number one in your industry. Your strategy statements on how to achieve that goal need to clearly point out the opportunities that your firm will pursue rather than the results you would like to achieve.

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