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Strategic Planning and Strategic Management

​​​​​​​​What is strategy?

Whether the strategy is a grand master plan over 3 years, 10 years - or simply what are you are going to do this year to get better at whatever you do - the principles are the same: Set your goals; Figure out what needs to be done; Do it; See if it's working; Adjust.

There are many definitions of strategy. We find this one by Michael Porter to be a very useful one. 

“Strategy is the creation of a unique and valuable position, involving a 
different set of activities.”, “Strategy is making trade-offs in competing.”, and “Strategy is creating fit among a company’s activities.” 
Porter, M. E. 1996. What is a strategy? Harvard Business Review (November-December): 61-78
In the private sector, the notion of value may often be interpreted as financial value to shareholders - and competition is a stronger element. In the public sector, the notion of competition may take a less significant role - and the notion of value to the public increases in importance. In both sectors 'creating fit' among activities - or simply getting the organization setup or reorganized to execute and deliver results is critical.

What is strategic planning?

The reason why organizations develop strategies and plans is to implement some type of change - a new design; a new direction; doing things differently or doing different things. It's about making things better. Strategy is about making changes to generate some positive result. It’s about improving organizational performance over time. 
While there are complexities in planning and execution, it really boils down to these three fundamental questions:
  • Where are we now?

  • Where do we want to be?

  • How will we get there?

The answers to these questions chart the course for taking the organization from the current state to a future state where organizational performance gets better over time.
It is fitting, and not coincidental, that we use terms like 'leader' or ‘director’ for those often in key positions within an organization… those who provide guidance and direction. Leaders are those who guide organizations on the journey of change.


​​​​​What is strategic management?

If strategy is about the journey of change, then the destination is the unique and valuable position. Success requires assembling the pieces of a complex, dynamic puzzle to make so that they work together harmoniously. As organizations strive to improve performance, many individuals are tasked with solving various problems or taking some action to try and make things better.
It is critical that people’s decisions and actions are aligned with organizational mission and values to ensure effective use of resources; and so that goals can be met. Actions that are ‘off-track’ are said to be unaligned. These individual pieces of the puzzle and what needs to be in place to make them “fit” are key to succeeding execution.
There are three key questions that we constantly ask ourselves in managing strategy:
  • Are we doing the right things?

  • Are we getting them done well?

  • Are getting results?

Effective governance and oversight ensure that the organization stays on course with the execution of their plans as well as the attainment of results. Oversight is a critical component of an effective strategic management framework. In relation to the other 3 questions, oversight asks:
  • How do we know?

Managing strategy is about managing change. It’s about getting the vision and positive results stakeholders want. If strategic planning is about charting the course to where you want to go; then strategic management is about making sure you get there.





“If you don’t know where you want to go …
... any road will take you there.”
African American proverb





Strategic Planning 

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Strategic Management 

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