Elements of a Strategic Plan in Brief - dummies

By Erica Olsen

Not to oversimplify the planning process, but by dividing a strategic plan into four areas, you can clearly see how the pieces fit together. The four pieces of the puzzle are found in these questions:

  • Where are we now?

  • Where are we going?

  • How will we get there?

  • How will we measure our progress?

Each area has certain elements to show you how and where things fit. I introduce the elements in the following sections. For a bird’s-eye view of this discussion, see the figure.


What matters most is having a strategy and, therefore, an effective strategic plan. An effective plan and execution process require the following attributes:

  • Purpose-driven: A plan based on a mission and a real, true competitive advantage is key. Without it, what’s the point of the plan or the organization?

  • Integrated: Each element supports the next. No objectives are disconnected from goals, and no strategies sit all alone.

  • Systematic: Don’t think of the plan as one big document. Instead, give it life by breaking it into executable parts.

  • Dynamic: The plan isn’t a static document but a living one.

  • Holistic: All areas of the organization are included. Don’t plan based on departments first because you risk limiting your thinking. Plan by thinking about the organization as a whole entity and then implement on a department-by-department basis.

  • Understandable: Everyone gets it. If anyone, from the top of the organization to the bottom, doesn’t understand the plan or how he or she fits in, it won’t work.

  • Realistic: You can implement the plan. Don’t over plan. Make sure you have the resources to support the goals you decide to focus on.