What Comes First Plan Or Strategy: The question of what comes first, a plan or a strategy, is a fundamental consideration in the realm of decision-making, both in business and various aspects of life. While the terms “plan” and “strategy” are often used interchangeably, they carry distinct implications that can significantly impact the outcome of any endeavor.

A strategy typically represents the overarching approach or roadmap designed to achieve a specific goal or objective. It involves setting broad objectives, identifying resources, and assessing the competitive landscape. A well-crafted strategy provides direction and focus, helping organizations or individuals allocate resources effectively.

The debate over whether planning precedes strategizing or vice versa is not merely a matter of semantics; it reflects differing philosophies in decision-making. In this exploration, we will delve into the intricacies of both concepts, uncover their interplay, and discern the circumstances under which one should take precedence over the other. Whether you’re a business leader, a project manager, or an individual pursuing personal mini goals, understanding this dynamic can prove invaluable in achieving success.

Should a company strategize first or plan first?

It is a difficult question to answer but I think the order should be: policy, strategy and then planning. First you formulate a policy which is the principles or the protocols to guide decisions and next we can make a strategy and finally a detailed plan to achieve the strategy.

Whether a company should strategize first or plan first is a crucial decision that depends on various factors, including the organization’s goals, industry, and external circumstances. Both strategy and planning are components of effective management, but the order in which they are prioritized can vary. Here’s a detailed answer exploring the considerations for deciding which comes first:

1. Understanding the Difference:

  • Strategy: A strategy is a high-level approach that defines an organization’s long-term goals and objectives. It involves assessing the competitive landscape, identifying opportunities and threats, and determining how the company will position itself to achieve its mission.
  • Planning: Planning involves the detailed steps, tasks, and resources needed to execute a strategy. It is the process of converting strategic goals into actionable plans, often specifying timelines, budgets, and responsibilities.

2. Context Matters:

  • Industry: In rapidly changing industries like technology or fashion, having a clear strategic direction (strategy) might be essential to stay competitive. However, other industries, like manufacturing, may require detailed planning to ensure efficient operations.
  • Market Conditions: Unpredictable markets may necessitate a flexible strategic approach that adapts to changing circumstances, while stable markets may allow for more extensive planning.

3. Start with Strategy:

  • Vision and Mission: If a company is still shaping its long-term vision and mission, it should start with strategy. Defining what the organization stands for and where it wants to go is crucial before outlining specific plans.
  • New Ventures: When entering new markets or launching innovative products/services, a strategic approach is often more appropriate to assess risks and opportunities.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether a company should strategize first or plan first. The decision should be tailored to the organization’s unique circumstances and objectives. Effective management often involves an iterative and flexible approach, combining elements of both strategy and planning to achieve long-term success.

Does strategy come under planning?

In business, one might come across with the terms planning and strategy, end number of times. Planning is the basic function of management that tries to take a peep into the future. On the other hand, strategy is one of the components of planning and is also known as interpretative planning.

Strategy falls under the broader umbrella of planning, to recognize that strategy and planning are distinct but interconnected components of the decision-making process within an organization. To understand this relationship better, let’s delve into the details:

1. Relationship between Strategy and Planning:

  • Interdependence: Strategy and planning are interdependent. A well-crafted strategy guides the planning process by providing the overarching goals and priorities. In turn, planning ensures that the strategy is executed efficiently by breaking it down into actionable tasks and allocating resources appropriately.
  • Hierarchy: Strategy is typically positioned at the top of the hierarchy, setting the vision and direction. Planning sits beneath strategy, translating those high-level objectives into specific actions. This hierarchy ensures alignment between the big-picture goals and the day-to-day operations.

2. Role of Strategy within Planning:

  • Strategic Planning: Strategic planning is a specific phase of the planning process that focuses on defining and refining the organization’s strategy. It involves activities like analyzing the market, assessing competitive strengths and weaknesses, and setting strategic priorities.
  • Alignment: One of the key roles of strategy within planning is to ensure alignment. Strategic goals serve as a reference point to ensure that all planning efforts are directed toward achieving the broader strategic objectives.

3. Types of Planning:

  • Tactical Planning: Tactical planning deals with the shorter-term actions required to implement the strategy. It includes departmental plans, annual budgets, and specific projects aimed at achieving strategic goals.
  • Operational Planning: At the operational level, planning focuses on day-to-day activities, resource allocation, and process optimization. It ensures that the organization’s routine operations support the strategic objectives.

While strategy and planning are distinct concepts, strategy is a critical component of the broader planning process. Strategy sets the overarching vision and goals, while planning takes those goals and outlines the actionable steps necessary to achieve them. Together, they form a cohesive framework for guiding organizations toward their desired future state and ensuring that day-to-day activities contribute to that vision.

What comes before a strategic plan?

Step 1: Environmental Scan. The first step of any strategic planning process starts with research. Agency Alpha conducts an environmental scan, a process where they identify and monitor factors that may impact the long-term direction of the agency.

Before developing a strategic plan, several steps and considerations come into play. These preparatory steps are crucial for laying the foundation upon which a strategic plan can be built effectively. Here’s a detailed answer outlining what typically comes before a strategic plan:

1. Mission and Vision Statements:

  • Mission Statement: This defines the core purpose and fundamental reason for the organization’s existence. It outlines what the organization does, who it serves, and why it does what it does.
  • Vision Statement: The vision statement articulates the desired future state or the long-term goals the organization aims to achieve. It provides direction and inspiration for the strategic planning process.

2. Environmental Analysis:

  • SWOT Analysis: Conduct a comprehensive SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to assess internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. This analysis helps in understanding the current state of the organization and the factors that may impact its future.

3. Goal Setting:

  • Clearly define the specific objectives and goals that the organization wants to achieve. Goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) to provide a clear framework for the strategic plan.

What comes before a strategic plan is a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s identity, its environment, its goals, and the resources and challenges it faces. This groundwork provides the context and direction necessary to formulate a strategic plan that is both meaningful and actionable.

Is strategy same as plan?

There are strong differences between these words. A plan is an arrangement, pattern, program or scheme for a definite purpose. A strategy, on the other hand, is a blueprint, layout, design, or idea used to accomplish a specific goal that is open for adaptation and change when needed.

A strategy is not the same as a plan. While they are related and often used in conjunction, they serve different purposes and have distinct characteristics. Here’s a detailed explanation of the differences between strategy and planning:

  1. Definitions and Distinctions:
  • Delve into the precise definitions of strategy and planning, highlighting their key differences and commonalities.

2. Purpose and Scope:

  • Discuss how the purpose and scope of strategy differ from that of a plan. Explain how strategy sets the direction, while planning specifies the detailed steps.

3. Time Horizons:

  • Explore the time horizons associated with strategy and planning. How does strategy focus on the long-term, while planning deals with the short to medium term?

4. Flexibility vs. Rigidity:

  • Analyze the flexibility of a strategic approach and the rigidity often associated with planning. Highlight situations where adaptability is crucial.

While strategy and planning are closely related and work together to achieve organizational goals, they are distinct concepts with different scopes and purposes. Strategy sets the direction and overall goals, while planning provides the actionable steps and details needed to execute that strategy effectively. Both are components of successful organizational management.

Which is bigger plan or strategy?

A plan has a more limited scope than a strategy, and the process to develop it should be more focused and quicker, so you get into action as soon as possible. A Strategy: A strategy is the story of an exciting journey; it explains how you plan to move from where you are today to where you eventually want to end.

In the context of organizational management and decision-making, the concept of whether a plan is bigger than a strategy or vice versa can be somewhat misleading. To understand that size, in this case, doesn’t refer to physical dimensions or literal magnitude but rather to the scope and purpose of each concept. Here’s a detailed explanation to clarify this:

1. Strategy:

  • Scope: A strategy is a high-level, long-term approach that outlines an organization’s overarching goals, objectives, and the means to achieve them. It typically addresses the fundamental questions of “what,” “why,” and “where.”
  • Purpose: The primary purpose of a strategy is to set the direction for the organization, define its competitive advantage, and make critical decisions about resource allocation and market positioning.
  • Time Horizon: Strategies often have a longer time horizon, focusing on the organization’s long-term vision and direction.

In this context, to recognize that the relationship between strategy and planning is hierarchical rather than a matter of one being “bigger” than the other. Strategy sets the overall direction and overarching goals for an organization, while planning drills down into the specific details of how to achieve those goals.

  1. Analogy: Think of strategy as the blueprint for building a house; it outlines the design, purpose, and location of the house. Planning, on the other hand, represents the detailed steps, materials, and labor required to construct the house according to the blueprint. The blueprint (strategy) guides the construction process (planning), but each serves a unique and critical role in the overall project.

Strategy and planning are not directly comparable in terms of size; rather, they are complementary elements within the strategic management process, with strategy providing the high-level direction and planning providing the detailed implementation. Both for the success of an organization, with each serving its distinct purpose.

What are the key differences between a strategic approach and a planned approach in business or decision-making?

In business and decision-making, a strategic approach and a planned approach are distinct methodologies, each with its own characteristics and objectives. Understanding the key differences between these approaches for effective management and achieving organizational goals. Here’s a detailed explanation of the differences:

  1. Definition and Essence:
  • Delve into the fundamental definitions of a strategic approach and a planned approach. Discuss how each approach shapes the decision-making process differently.
  1. Flexibility vs. Rigidity:
  • Explore how a strategic approach emphasizes adaptability, allowing for flexibility in response to changing circumstances, while a planned approach often follows structured, predetermined steps, which can be rigid in certain situations.
  1. Time Horizons and Scope:
  • Analyze the differing timeframes and scopes associated with strategic approaches and planned approaches. Discuss how strategic approaches encompass long-term visions, whereas planned approaches are often more focused on short to medium-term goals.

While both a strategic approach and a planned approach have their merits, they serve different purposes in business and decision-making. A strategic approach provides the vision and direction, while a planned approach offers the detailed roadmaps and procedures to execute that vision effectively.

How does the order of planning and strategizing vary in different industries or contexts?

The order of planning and strategizing can indeed vary significantly in different industries and contexts, primarily due to the unique challenges, characteristics, and competitive landscapes within each sector. Here’s a detailed explanation of how this variation occurs:

1. Technology and Innovation-Driven Industries:

  • Strategizing First: In technology-driven industries such as IT, software development, and biotechnology, strategizing often comes first. These industries are characterized by rapid technological advancements and evolving customer needs. Companies must first define their long-term vision and innovation strategies before creating detailed plans to stay competitive.

2. Manufacturing and Operations-Intensive Industries:

  • Planning First: In industries like manufacturing, construction, and logistics, meticulous planning is typically prioritized. These sectors require detailed project planning, resource allocation, and efficient execution. Companies often focus on creating detailed plans for production, supply chain management, and project delivery before defining their long-term strategies.

3. Retail and Consumer Goods:

  • Both Concurrently: Retail and consumer goods industries often employ a balance between strategizing and planning. While long-term strategies are crucial for brand positioning and market penetration, short-term planning is equally vital for managing inventory, promotions, and seasonal fluctuations.

The order of planning and strategizing varies based on the nature of the industry and specific organizational contexts. While some industries prioritize strategizing first to set long-term visions and directions, others prioritize planning to ensure operational efficiency and project execution. 

In many cases, these processes are iterative, with ongoing adjustments and feedback loops to adapt to changing circumstances. The key is to strike the right balance between strategizing and planning to achieve organizational goals effectively.

Can a successful strategy be formulated without a clear understanding of the planning process, or are they inherently interconnected?

A successful strategy and the planning process are inherently interconnected in the realm of organizational management and decision-making. While it is theoretically possible to formulate a strategy without immediately diving into detailed planning, a strategy that lacks a clear understanding of the planning process is often incomplete and less likely to be effective. Here’s a detailed explanation of the relationship between strategy and planning:

1. Interdependence:

  • Strategy’s Role: A strategy sets the overall direction, vision, and long-term goals of an organization. It answers essential questions like “What are our objectives?” and “How will we achieve them?” It outlines the organization’s competitive advantage, target markets, and differentiation strategies.
  • Planning’s Role: Planning, on the other hand, is the process of converting the strategic vision into practical, actionable steps. It involves specifying how the strategic goals will be achieved, allocating resources, establishing timelines, and assigning responsibilities.

2. Clarity and Focus:

  • Strategy First: Formulating a clear strategy is crucial because it provides the organization with clarity of purpose and focus. Without a strategic direction, planning efforts may lack direction and coherence.
  • Planning Second: Once a strategy is in place, planning becomes more purposeful and targeted.

3. Alignment:

  • Strategic Alignment: A successful strategy ensures that all planning efforts are aligned with the overarching organizational goals. It serves as a reference point to check whether plans and activities are in sync with the strategic vision.
  • Efficiency and Effectiveness: Planning that is rooted in a well-defined strategy is more efficient and effective. It reduces the risk of pursuing irrelevant or contradictory initiatives and ensures that resources are used optimally.

While it is possible to conceive a strategy without an immediate dive into detailed planning, such a strategy would lack the practicality, focus, and alignment necessary for success. Strategy and planning are intrinsically linked, with strategy providing the overarching vision and planning translating that vision into actionable steps. Together, they form a dynamic and complementary framework for effective decision-making and goal attainment within organizations.

What Comes First Plan Or Strategy


In the debate over whether planning or strategy should come first, it becomes evident that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The order of precedence depends on various factors, including the nature of the industry, organizational goals, external dynamics, and leadership style. Both planning and strategy are indispensable elements in effective decision-making, and their relationship is symbiotic.

A well-structured strategic approach lays the foundation for informed planning by defining the long-term vision, objectives, and competitive positioning. Simultaneously, meticulous planning ensures that the strategic vision is translated into actionable steps, with clear timelines and resource allocations.

Ultimately, a successful organization strikes a harmonious balance between strategy and planning, leveraging the strengths of each to navigate the complex and dynamic landscape of business and decision-making. The integration of strategy and planning enables adaptability, alignment, and the efficient allocation of resources, leading to the achievement of strategic objectives and long-term success. Whether it’s strategy first, planning first, or concurrent development, the key is to ensure that both elements work in tandem to drive organizational excellence.

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