Objectives, Strategies and Tactics Explained – The Strategic Planning Chain

Objectives, Strategies and Tactics Explained – The Strategic Planning Chain

I had just finished grading a test that covered the basics regarding objectives strategies and tactics. The results were not good, and I was a little depressed. I had always thought I was a good enough communicator to have gotten my points across in class – apparently not. It was evident to me then that there remains a lot of confusion about just how objectives strategies and tactics are related. It was at this point that I created the “Strategic Planning Chain” seen below as a tool for helping to simplify these key elements of strategy.

The starting point for the strategic planning chain is the two axis which contrast the degree of strategic versus tactical and long-term versus short-term focus. For example, at one end of the spectrum is the company vision statement which is highly strategic in nature and focuses on the long-term. By contrast, tactics are (not surprisingly) tactical in nature and focus on the short-term.

In addition to the axis in the diagram, however, there are also two further pieces of information to help with understanding how the strategic planning process comes together; these being the intended audience for the various tactical elements and the question they are intended to answer.

In terms of the intended audience for the tactical elements let’s look again at the vision statement. For example, the audience for the vision statement is the company stakeholders, such as employees, customers, suppliers, the general public and its shareholders. This is because the vision statement should be shared with the stakeholders to provide them with guidance as to the overall direction of the company. Taking it a step further, the question that the vision statement answers is “Where are we going?”

As you move down the strategic planning chain, the audience for the particular strategy element narrows and the questions they address become more specific. This is so right down to tactics for which the audience is specific departments and which answer the question “What tools will we use?”

The strategic planning chain contains within it a lot of information. Hopefully, it allows you to take a new view of the relationship between the various strategy elements. Further detail on this is available in my book Think, Plan, Prosper which details how to create successful marketing plans in the digital marketing age. The chapters are all available for free downloading including Chapter 2 which covers the “Strategic Planning Chain.”

One final note. The “Sustainability Mix” is not a standard strategy element. I created it as a tool for including business sustainability initiatives into the strategic planning process. Chapter 3 of Think, Plan, Prosper is devoted to” The “Sustainability Mix” should you wish more information on it.

Scott Van Wagner
Scott Van Wagner is a senior marketing strategist. His marketing experience includes roles as a Sales Rep, Product Manager, Service Director and General Manager and Author. This practical experience is enhanced by marketing knowledge developed delivering courses on marketing strategy and management at The University of Western Ontario, Brock University, McMaster University and The University of Guelph.
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