Strategy is not “planning”. People often times lump strategy formulation and planing together. The process of strategy formulation begins first and foremost with thinking, more specifically the way in which you think. It is important when you begin to form the direction of your venture that you set aside specific time simply to think. Don’t fall into the “busyness trap” of doing things just for the sake of doing them.
Great strategy comes from innovative thinkers who use their experiences and learn from the experiences of others to create unique insights on their situation. From these insights you can begin building the infrastructure of your business model, determining what resources to allocate and where and determining the trade-offs that will be necessary.
Strategic thinking should also develop the mission, vision and values of the intended venture. The mental agility required to use key insights to form not only the purpose but also determine how this will be accomplished is no small feat. Disciplined thinking requires an adept level of understanding of the current situation which is why context is a very big part of the thinking process. It is imperative that you understand the context of your situation and how it fits into the perceived context of your target market. Context is how you put to good use all the ideas you have generated based on your knowledge and experience.
Once you have established the “what” and how you will fulfill that “what” it is time to begin the actual planning stage. The planning stage is the natural progression that comes from strategic thinking. By using your key insights you begin to create your big-picture purpose as well as more specific items such as: how exactly you will create your competitive advantage, defining your resources and capabilities, knowing where to focus those resources and capabilities and determining the appropriate actionable next steps. You then simply channel this into a plan of action, defining goals and objectives.
Planning is more tactical than strategic but a successful strategy must have a plan of exactly what steps need to be taken. The planning process is simply the act of putting on paper what has been established through thinking, therefore strategic thinking leads to strategic planning.
Takeaway: focus on improving the way in which you think to become more strategic.