Let’s start with what strategy is not. Strategy is not a strategic plan. It’s not a mission, vision or goals. It’s not programming, marketing or finance.
Strategy is an organization’s integrated set of choices about what to do – and what not to do – using available resources. Strategy addresses how an organization pursues its mission using available resources and how it continues to attract the resources it needs to achieve its mission over time. A strategic plan documents how an organization intends to use its resources to implement its strategy over a set period of time. While mission and vision comprise a social logic for the organization’s existence, strategy can be described as the economic logic that complements the social logic.
A key element of strategy is that it reconciles timing and opportunity – analyzing the environment to identify opportunities, threats and overall competitiveness. Because of the ever-changing nature of the environment in which organizations exist, strategy is a dynamic, continuous process requiring both creativity and critical thinking to gather and deploy resources effectively.
Most importantly, an organization’s strategy focuses on these key questions:
- What unique, indispensable benefit do we provide to our community and our stakeholders?
- What investments do we need to make to maintain or improve the benefits we provide?
- How can we optimize our mission achievement while maintaining a sustainable economic structure?