The Misguided View Of Separating ‘Strategy’ From ‘Planning’

Some argue that ‘strategic planning’ is somewhat of a contradictory term as ‘strategy’ and ‘planning’ are two distinct activities with little connection to each other.  The main argument for such a position is that ‘strategy’ is about identifying the high level core strategy the business must take in order to differentiate itself from the competition and perform better in the market place; therefore ‘strategy’ is more theoretical.  This same view also argues that ‘planning’ is much more about the tactical, systematic and sequential actions the business must take.  Therefore, such a view encourages companies to separate ‘strategy’ from action ‘planning’.  Higher level executives do ‘strategy’; lower level employees do ‘action planning’.

stratop nashville planning

While such a view is understandable and somewhat common, the contention that ‘strategy’ and ‘planning’ should be separated is misguided.  Rather, the same group that is responsible for ‘strategy’ needs to also own execution ‘planning’.  Here is why.


Disciplined People, Disciplined Thought, Disciplined Action

Jim Collins’ classic book “Good To Great” crystalizes a 3-part framework from his research of how companies went from good to great, significantly improving sustained performance through three distinct phases:

  • Disciplined people – Good to great companies first focus on getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats.
  • Disciplined thought – Then, and only then, having gotten the right people, who are disciplined on the bus, do those same disciplined people engage in disciplined thought.
  • Disciplined action – Finally, those disciplined people, who engage in disciplined thought, follow through and take disciplined action. This is the framework that leads propels good companies to become great companies.

StratOp Ensures Leadership Teams Create An Actionable Strategic Plan

StratOp is a strategic system that helps teams clarify where they are, where they’re headed, and how they will get there. It’s used by organizations big and small, from billion-dollar global corporations to entrepreneurs and startups.  The second phase of StratOp is “Planning”.  The Planning Phase of StratOp ensures an actionable plan is created that the team will buy-into and implement.

How StratOp Reinforces Collins’ 3-Part Framework

StratOp connects all three of Collins’ phases by ensuring a broad-based group of disciplined people from the company with varying perspectives engage in disciplined thought through the StratOp plan creation process, and then champion the back-end execution of the plan through the subsequent phases of StratOp.  In other words, StratOp ensures the same core group of disciplined people, engage in disciplined thought, leading to disciplined action for the business.

StratOp Planning – Disciplined Thought That Leads To Disciplined Action

Disciplined thought is aided by StratOp’s approach of perspective-driven planning over speed-driven planning.  We guide teams through a series of Socratic conversations that begin to identify and unpack the truth of the organization’s past, present and future realities, leading to the building of a core plan:

  • Mission: Clarifies why the organization exists
  • Vision: Defines what a preferred picture of the future looks like and how we will get there
  • Our Primary Customer: Identifies the company’s ideal client’s characteristics
  • Our Primary Customer’s Values: Identifies what your company’s ideal client needs, values and wants from us

Visit for a full list and explanation of all of the Planning tools.

So What?

Imagine if your organization was characterized by disciplined people, engaging in disciplined thought, leading to disciplined action.  How much better would your results be?

Next Steps?

About The Author

  • Tom Barrett is a Nashville-based leadership team coach who utilizes proven processes including StratOp, Scaling Up and the ValueBuilder System to help entrepreneurs get what they want from their business. 

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