Often times, the words “plan” and “strategy” are used interchangeably. The meanings of the words are quiet similar; a method for achieving an end. However, there are strong differences between these words as well. A plan is an arrangement, a pattern, a program, or a scheme for a definite purpose. A plan is very concrete in nature and doesn’t allow for deviation. If “Plan A” doesn’t work, you don’t alter “Plan A” and try again. Rather, you move to “Plan B;” something totally different.
A strategy, on the other hand, is a blueprint, layout, design, or idea used to accomplish a specific goal. A strategy is very flexible and open for adaptation and change when needed.
I recently heard a great example of the difference between a plan and a strategy, using sports. This example serves to illustrate the difference between a soccer team’s plan or strategy to score a goal.
A soccer team with a plan to score a goal might begin with a throw-in to another specific player. The ball would then be passed to a designated offensive player who would then be responsible for shooting the ball into the goal. The succession of moves would be deliberate and would not be adjusted when risks or obstacles to the plan were presented.
A soccer team with a strategy to score a goal might also begin a play with a throw-in one of a few different teammates. The main idea would then be to move the ball forward and pass to open offensive players who would then shoot the ball at the goal. The succession of moves would be open for adaptation and change if the ball were intercepted or if other players were open for receiving the ball.
When planning for the future, which is undeniably unknown, it helps to strategize and consider the various scenarios you might be faced with and be prepared to modify your strategy so you can keep moving forward, rather than starting over at the beginning.