Confusing Strategy with Planning

We often find that "strategy" and "planning" are referred to as the same activity by clients and colleagues.  Perhaps it is because we often refer to "strategic planning" as an activity that most schools and colleges undertake every few years.  The reality is that they are very different exercises.  

  • Strategy is making tough choices to inspire a preferred future.
  • Planning is the intentional sequencing of those choices.
  • Strategic Planning is the process of identifying both strategic and writing the plan.

And, leadership is required to pull off both all three exercises.  

Don't confuse activity with meaning.  Strategy precedes the plan.  And, if you write a plan without a cogent strategy, than it is not likely to create a better tomorrow for the organization.  

The truth is most schools and colleges fail in the area of making the tough decisions to inspire a preferred future.  They focus on collaboration, inclusion, and participation of internal stakeholders, but fail to see that the real opportunities available to them are going to take courage.  Interestingly, most of the tough choices come from external environments, which is why it is often hard for organizations to act upon them.