The term stands for company goals moving from one level of an organization to another ensuring their alignment to lower level employee goals and team and department goals.
The original idea of cascading objectives sought to align everybody in the company around a common strategy, from the top down. The CEO, CFO and founders began by setting their goals for the company. Senior management then used those goals as a basis for setting their own objectives, and the exercise continued down through middle management all the way to the workers.
Key criticisms of cacading goals are its rigidity and time-consuming nature. Since at each level of the organization, individuals must meet, discuss the outcomes and set their personal targets before the next level of employees can begin to get anything done.
Often those at the C-suite level are reluctant to update their goals and start the whole process again due to it's tedious nature. Resultantly, goals stagnate, are not updated and become irrelevant to the actual working strategy of the company.