Realtors often recommend new house hunters divide their wish list into must-have features and nice-to-have features. For example, for a family of four a three-bedroom house may be a must-have, while a four-bedroom house could be a nice-to-have as it would allow for a home office.
In business, the same line of thinking proves just as useful. As company leadership sits down to draw up long- term strategic goals, the list almost always includes some initiatives where the success is a make-or-break for the business, while others would add value, but won’t sink the ship if they are not achieved.
Enter business imperatives, the absolute top-line objectives crucial to the success of your business. Unlike ordinary goals or ideas, failure is not an option when it comes to imperatives.
For example, you manufacture widgets and your widget has typically been the market leader, but a few new upstarts now have features beyond your companies’ offerings. At the current pace, it won’t be long until your customers take notice and flock in masses to the upstarts. To prevent this from happening, research and development must become an imperative. Staying on the cutting edge would be essential to continued success of the company.
Because imperatives are a high priority and require such a high degree of focus from the team, the number of imperatives needs to be small. If you have more than a handful of business imperatives, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Imperatives should form the foundation for all of the company’s goals. As divisions, departments and even individuals set goals; the end in mind should focus on bringing the company closer to meeting one or more of the imperatives. In fact, each imperative should have measurable goals or benchmarks assigned to it so the team can see the company progressing toward that imperative.