A simple strategy formulation

Sometimes, if you talk about something for a while, or even if you ignore it while it sits in the back of your mind, it starts to crystallize. It gets nice and simple. (Sometimes, of course, it goes the other way and gets more and more muddled, but that’s another post.)

Obviously, I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about strategy – what it is, and how we can talk together about strategy in a way we all understand. Some of that time is more contemplative – sitting in front of the computer writing a proposal or a report or a blog post.

But some of that time is front of a group or in conversation, engaged with people – the back and forth, the improvisational flow.

It was during a really interesting group discussion with a client who’s in the middle of a hugely challenging situation that a simple formulation about strategy just came out of my mouth. We all blinked at each other, and someone scribbled it down before it was lost.

I’ve been thinking about it ever since, and it seems to be standing the test of time, without feeling simplistic or hollow. I’ve been using it in writing and in facilitation and it seems to resonate.

So, here it is:

Strategy is how we will achieve our aims,

based on what we know to be true,

and what we believe to be possible.

And, the crucial distinction:

Strategic planning = how we write that down.

What do you think? Is that a useful formulation we can work with?

Photo by Aurelien Bellanger, courtesy of Unsplash, used with permission under a Creative Commons Zero license.

Contact us at meredith@meredithlow.com or call 416-737-3935 to discuss how we might be able to help.


We offer resources to help leaders of associations and other not-for-profits think about their approach to strategy and governance, from various perspectives.