When talking about business strategies, commentators often talk about goals, and occasionally mention objectives. These terms are, however, usually not clearly defined and very seldom is there a solid hierarchy or discernable relationship between them. In some cases they are used interchangeably. Unfortunately, the use of these terms in other fields and endeavors (like behavior and coaching) often results in understandable confusion. There are real reasons to use each of these concepts to serve specific and distinct functions in support of business strategy and you can build a stronger and more useful strategy by allowing them to satisfy different roles.
In my experience; a business or strategic goal should be a general statement of intent that is broad, relatively undefined but expresses the vision and aspiration of the organization. It could have measurable aspects, but does not necessarily have to have them. One very good example of effective goal setting was President Kennedy’s statement to Congress in 1961: “This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” It might be useful to remember that, when Kennedy gave this speech, the US had never put any man into space under any circumstances. A little over eight years later, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon’s surface. Kennedy’s goal was aspirational and visionary, it had some measurable aspects and it was sufficiently clear to serve as a focal point for his subordinates and teammates to initiate independent work in support of it.