Business Imperative: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

It's imperative, so it must be done! That's the general idea behind a business imperative. In this lesson, you'll learn more about the term as it relates to an organization and see an example in action.

Get Your Boots

You glance outside while the kids are eating breakfast and realize that the falling snow is accumulating more quickly than weather forecast said. You yell at the kids from the living room to finish their cereal and go upstairs to grab their snow boots. Five minutes pass. Then, ten. It's nearly time to walk out the door and your youngest still does not have on her boots.

Winter boots are imperative on a snowy day.
business, imperative, project, management, planning, execution

You head upstairs to your daughter's room to deliver this message: ''It is imperative that you put your boots on right now. There's six inches of snow on the ground!''

Sometimes, we encounter a situation where the task, thought, goal or idea is not optional. It's not simply a good idea or a passing fancy. It simply must be done. In project management, these events are known as business imperatives.

What's a Business Imperative?

Like the boots from our example were mandatory for trekking out in the snow, a business imperative is an important goal that an organization sets for itself and must obtain. It's not optional. Business imperatives help to ensure the success of the company. They are mandated by the management of an organization as goals that must be met.

Typically, a business objective follows this pattern:

1. A goal or objective, something the business wants to obtain is identified.

2. A strategy, or plain of action, is developed to help achieve the objective.

3. The goal and strategy are clearly outlined and all business employees work toward successful completion.

It might be easy to get a business imperative confused with other terms like ''thought'' or ''idea,'' but understand that an imperative is something essential or required. The word ''imperative'' itself derives from the Latin word ''imperare,'' which means ''command.'' Ideas and thoughts in business can be helpful for creating tasks and tactics, but business imperatives are necessary to achieve success.

How a Business Imperative Work

A business imperative in action might look something like this. Your company makes an objective to launch 12 new retail locations in a previously untapped geographical area.


A strategy is assembled to put together the steps necessary to launch the new retail stores. That might include scouting the best locations, picking products to sell and hiring the appropriate staff. It will also include steps toward construction, permitting and other necessities for building your ideal retail space. It may even include surveying customers and soliciting feedback about the new locations.

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