Strategy Vs. Planning

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When preparing to accomplish a goal, our first reaction is often to plan. It is instilled in us from a young age. Winston Churchill said, “Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.” Is that strategic planning? And where does strategy fit in, anyway?

A strategy is how you position around an opportunity, and plans are how you complete tasks to achieve goals within it. By separating these two things, you create a system of checks and balances. After implementing a plan, conflict will commonly arise and things may start to go wrong. When it does, use your strategy as a guide to realign and recalibrate planned tasks around the stated goal. It sounds confusing at first, but with a little practice, a streamlined process will emerge that enables more thoughtful and productive outcomes.

Professor Roger L. Martin has written extensively on the subject (check out my favorite selection below).

A common part of any strategy is teaming up with others. Forming your team will require identifying the skills needed, assessing your strengths and weaknesses, then back-filling with talented and adaptable teammates. If you have the need to strategize, plan, or execute on complex long-term objectives, I encourage you to call ProtoGen and learn more about our capabilities.

I must have heard the words “we need to create a strategic plan” at least an order of magnitude more times than I have heard “we need to create a strategy.” This is because most people see strategy as an exercise in producing a planning document. In this conception, strategy is manifested as a long list of initiatives with timeframes associated and resources assigned.

Harvard Business Review, “Don’t Let Strategy Become Planning”