In business we often get confronted with the need to define a set of actions which will result in successfully reaching an end goal. But how do you bridge the gap between a long term vision and short-term actions? How do I decide what to do today to reach my five-year goals?
This is where the M.O.S.T. analysis comes in. It is a method to slice the levels of detail a plan needs from the overall goal all the way down to what you can do today. As the acronym implies, M.O.S.T. analysis has four levels, all of which are briefly explained in this post.
The Mission is the single reason why you are in business or why your project was started. It’s the cornerstone of your businessplan and it gives guidance in in any decision to make. It’s critical that the mission is clear, concise and well understood by everyone (yes, everyone) in your company.
Missions often are broader than single projects, they apply to programs, departments or even entire companies. The mission usually is set for the long run, companies typically run several years without changing their mission.
But still it is a good idea to scrutinize your mission on yearly intervals or whenever external influences have an impact on how you run your business.
Objectives (pural) are a collection of tangible, individual goals. They are defined in such a way that reaching them implies successful completion of your mission. All objectives need to be measurable, with defined criteria for success.
While objectives do set and end goal, they give no information on how to get there. So, up to this point we have defined (Mission) and honed in (Objectives) on our goals.
Now the objectives are set, you need a way to get there. This is the Strategy; a medium- to long-term plan which defines what you will do to reach your objectives.
Strategies are defined according to the SMART criteria. Failing to do so will cause ambiguity and keep you from reaching your goals.
Typically Strategies span multiple years and are built out of several phases. But as the world around you changes, so should your strategy. Yes, you should plan for multiple years, but no, that does not mean that you can’t change this plan as circumstances require.
Tactics: what will you and your team do today and tomorrow to reach the objectives in line with your strategy? It’s the action plan! This is where the work happens.
Just like Objectives, Tactics is a plural. You need multiple to get it done. More than any other part of M.O.S.T., Tactics are not set in stone. They are re-assessed and re-defined based on the outcome of previous actions or any other relevant input.
When defining the way forward for your project, program or business an in-depth analysis will help. It allows you to break down the challenge in smaller, actionable steps and will allow you to hone your priorities.
As we live in an ever changing environment, this analysis should be repeated at regular intervals. The M.O.S.T. analysis is a simple but very powerful tool which should allow you to do this with minimal effort. So what’s keeping you?