What is Strategic Planning? Here are 6 Differentiating Characteristics

by Bill Weber

Posted February 28, 2018

 

VISION OUTCOME/VISION

Strategic plans often begin (or end) with a compelling vision of what they want to achieve. They also need a vision on how to get from here to there (after Kennedy wanted to send a man to the moon, he had to invent NASA to get there).

USE OF EXTERNAL AS WELL AS INTERNAL DATA

Strategic plans need to take stock and take bets on external trends – from demographic shifts to competitive challenges. An internally driven planning process is a good start, but just a start.

CONDITIONS OF SUCCESS

A strategic planning process asks under what conditions is there a probability of success. Conditions of success range from financial resources to timelines, from leadership commitment to perceived urgency. Change the conditions, change the probability of success.

RIGOROUS ASSESSMENT OF VIABLE ALTERNATIVE SCENARIOS

Creativity and analytic disciplines are required in assessing alternative future (3 + years) scenarios. A plan that simply extrapolates to the future based on one set of assumptions may be a good long range plan, but it is not strategic.

DYNAMIC AND TRANSFORMATIVE

As planning participants gain new information and test their assumptions, their expectations and aspirations inevitably change. In turn, the planning process evolves – and when it takes hold, the outcome is transformative.

OPERATING PRINCIPLES = STRATEGY

Navigating assessment, alternative scenarios and evolving visions is never linear. It requires the ability to make consequential decisions with incomplete information. When taken together these “strategies” amount to “strategic planning”.

 

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