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A strategy is not a plan: Here’s the difference

Most confuse business planning and strategic planning with strategy. Those are two entirely different things.

What is Strategic Planning?

It’s a set of activities that a given company plans on accomplishing. Increasing sales, expanding market share, improving customer experience, and so on.

All that’s great, but these goals together won’t get you to a specific leading position.

What’s Strategy?

Is all about a competitive outcome. It’s an integrative set of choices that combined position you on a playing field of your choice in a way that you win.

In other words, setting a strategy is similar to developing a theory

  • Here’s why we should aim for the local market instead of the regional one
  • And here’s how we can be the best in this specific local market, beating all local and regional players

Your chosen strategy has to be coherent and most of all, achievable.

Everyone plans to be the best, but you need to base your ultimate goals on your unique capabilities.

The importance of coherence in the equation:

  • Your company’s Business Dev wants to launch a new website
  • Marketing wants to re-brand
  • And IT wants to hire more people

Those three aspects won’t necessarily work together to improve your market position nor allow you to grow to a stable level, where beating you out of it is hard for the competition.

Why is planning easier than strategy?

Plans are by nature measurable and the outcome is controllable. You can plan how much to invest and specify the KPIs of each project, adjusting according to initial results. Strategy on the other hand is the aim for a competitive outcome that you wish to achieve; your outcome here is based on market response to your decisions.

Looking for more? Here’s a great video by HBR that sums up strategy

Have a question? feel free to contact me