What is the difference between a strategy and a plan?

 
Short answer: a strategy is zooming out and thinking about the big picture of what you’re setting out to do, while a plan is zooming in and focusing on the specific steps you’ll need to take.

 

Let’s look at each concept individually:

STRATEGY

A strategy is focusing on the the big picture of what you want to do and howyou can do it. It may include the following:

  • Identifying one specific goal or several goals: what are you setting out to do?
  • Defining all the requirements (what you need) to achieve it: what are the resources, the skills, the assistance or help from a third party, the knowledge, the financial resources, the time you’ll need?
  • Assessing the landscape: who are the main players? where is the competition? how do you rank against the competition? what are the strengths you bring to the table? which skills are you lacking?
  • Identifying obstacles: where do you see potential barriers? what is a threat to achieving your goal? where does the threat originate? is it manageable, and if so, then what will you need to overcome it?
  • Considering all of the alternatives: what are the different ways to get there? which one is the best option? how will you be evaluating each alternative to assess which is the best one?
  • Thinking about the numbers: how will you measure success? what does success look like? how can you make it quantifiable?
  • Thinking about the deliverables: when do you want to achieve your goal? is this a short-term goal (3 months, 6 months, 1 year) or a long-term goal (1, 5, 10 years or more)? what is the actual date by which you want to achieve it?

PLAN

A plan is zooming in and mapping out the steps that will get you to your goal. It may include the following:

  • Defining all tasks: can you identify all the things you need to achieve to reach your goal?
  • Creating a monthly plan: how many months will you need? which milestones can you reach each month? which tasks will fit into one month?
  • Creating a weekly schedule: where can you block off time during the week to work on your goal? can you adjust the times when you wake up and go to sleep so you can create more time early in the day for your goal?
  • Creating a daily schedule: how many hours in a day do you have available to devote to your goal? if you don’t have hours, then can you block off 15–30 minutes each day? how will you prioritize your tasks? what can you finish early in the morning, and what is better to leave for later in the day?
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