I am trying to describe a hierarchy, starting with a plan, which is composed of a set of goals. Each goal is also composed of a set of "steps" or things that need to be done to complete the goal. However, I don't want to use the word "steps" because that word has an implication that the "steps" have to be done in a particular order, which is not true in this case.

Can you suggest a word that is a sub component of a goal that doesn't have this implication of order?

For example, the plan might be "make the yard look amazing". One goal might be "fix the floral borders." One step of this might be "select flowers suitable for a north facing border", another might be "select flowers suitable for an east facing border", then other steps might be "Plant the north border" and "Plant the east border". Although there are some temporal relationships there, some are entirely independent, but all must be completed to finish the goal. So I am looking for a word for the sub components of the goal that is free of any implication of temporal (or for that matter topological) order.

  • 1
    If the steps need no specific order, they are not a hierarchy. Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 19:07
  • Perhaps I wasn't clear, certainly plan is superior to goal which is superior to "step", however, the steps, that is to say the children of "goal" do not have an order and more than species such as lion, tiger and jaguar have an order in their genus of panthera.
    – Fraser Orr
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 19:22
  • 1
    "Tasks" might be used to indicate actions that don't have to occur in sequence.
    – Xanne
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 23:05
  • Fraser, have you run that past many project management apps, please? Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 19:12
  • @Xanne, I like your answer best, but can't accept it because it is a comment.
    – Fraser Orr
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 20:44

3 Answers 3


"Tasks" might be used to indicate actions that don't have to occur in sequence.

Because they don't have to occur in sequence, they can be done simultaneously by different people--flower beds can be planned and planted at the same time.

A Gantt chart uses the term "activity" or "task" in scheduling; some tasks need to be completed before others can begin, but others can take place simultaneously in this approach. Wikipedia has an entry for Gantt Chart.

There's also a PERT chart or diagram, which allows displaying "possibly concurrent tasks" with divergent arrows. PERT example

However, I think you're free to indicate that the tasks in a list can be done simultaneously.


A goal will typically comprise a list of required actions.

the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim

Being required actions, you might consider them prerequisites.

a thing that is required as a prior condition for something else to happen or exist.

  • required as a prior condition

A simple word to use is job.

There are several jobs needed to make the yard look amazing.

With the jobs you describe, it does not matter which you do first because each one will make the yard look a little better, even though your example contradicts the requirement that they all need to be done (before the yard looks any better at all).

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