Goal, objective, strategy, tactic (GOST) is an acronym that stands for a planning method used to build a tactical plan for a business. Building a GOST plan is a simple and very effective way to manage a business and achieve goals.
There can only be one goal for a business. A goal has three attributes: it must be written, measurable, and attainable. Attainability is the key part of the goal as there is nothing more frustrating to a team than an unachievable goal. A typical example of a goal for a business would be, “we will increase our gross revenue by X percent in the next fiscal year.” Everything in the plan then leads to achieving the goal.
Once a goal has been determined, objectives are established for each facet of the business. In the spa industry, typical objectives would be, “we will increase our services revenue by X percent in the next fiscal year. We will increase our product sales revenue by X percent in the next fiscal year.” The targets in the objectives must lead to the achievement of the goal. When building objectives it is always recommended that the targets in the objectives are 20 percent higher than the goal. This is done so 80 percent achievement of objectives equals successful goal achievement.
Strategies are where professionals say, “this is what we are going to do.” An example of how this might look is, “we will increase revenues from existing services and customers by X percent. We will introduce new services and source new customers, which will drive revenues of X. We will increase revenues from existing products by X percent. We will introduce new products and drive revenues of X. We will launch an online e-commerce website and drive revenues of X.” Again, the total revenues of strategies should exceed objectives by 20 percent, so that 80 percent achievement leads to exceeding the goal.
At this point in the plan, a professional has simply stated, “this is what we are going to do.” While the goal, objectives, and strategies are key components of the plan, the plan is not a plan until the tactics have been added. Tactics say, “this is how I am going to achieve my goals, objectives, and strategies,” and turn the plan into a working management tool.
Tactics are the key component of the plan. They break down into two categories. High level tactics are longer-term but define how strategies will be achieved. Short-term tactics define actions, measure progress, and are used to manage the business. Example tactics to support the strategies stated above would include, but not be limited to:
- “We will build a direct marketing plan to our existing customers that includes promotion of products and services, thank-you notes for visits, and new products and services for existing customers.
Within the next 30 days, we will build a customer database and collect customer contact information.
- Effective immediately, we will send thank-you notes after every customer visit.
We will create a monthly newsletter that will promote existing and new products and services. The first newsletter will launch in 30 days.
- We will create a space on our website for weekly and monthly promotions. This will be launched within two weeks.
- We will increase revenues by attracting new customers.
- We will appoint an individual to build and manage our social media program. They will be responsible to have a social media plan in place within 30 days.
- We will establish a social media presence on all major media and promote on all websites weekly.
- We will launch an e-commerce website promoting our products and services with the next 30 days.
- We will run weekly product and services specials on our e-commerce website.”
Tactics define how goals, objectives, and strategies are achieved. There should be tactics to support every strategy. Every tactic should have a timeframe for completion. Short-term objectives should be able to be broken into bi-weekly actions. It is also important to note that every department in the business should have objectives, strategies, and tactics. It is important that areas such as finance, purchasing, manufacturing, and logistics have bought into the plan and are part of the team delivering success.
So, once a tactical plan has been built to grow the business, how do professionals use this plan to manage the business and achieve their goals? Simply put, the GOST plan is a powerful management tool. The tactics created all have timeframes for completion. The professional and their team become accountable to those timeframes. The first step in that accountability is to set regular review meetings, typically weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Bi-weekly meetings are usually the most effective. At the review meeting, there are five questions that need to be asked and answered by each individual:
- What did we say we were going to do?
- Did we do it?
- If not, why not?
- What did we achieve?
- What did we learn?
Once the tactics from the previous meeting have been analyzed and the results evaluated, the team sets the tactics for the next two-week period. The questions for this part of the
- What are we going to do?
- Who is going to do it?
- What results are we expecting?
With this process, every member of the team knows exactly what is expected for the next two weeks. It is important that each member of the team understands what is expected of them and agrees that it is achievable in the timeframe. This is the accountability part of the plan.
The advantage of a GOST plan is that it breaks the achievement of the goal into bi-weekly activities that do not overwhelm anyone. It focuses every member on what needs to be done short-term in order to achieve the long-term goal. Used effectively, it virtually guarantees success.
Ken Mair is the managing partner of The 180 Perspective and has been helping clients create, implement, and manage GOST plans for over 25 years.