What is the difference between „strategy“ and „plan“?

Yesterday I started to follow an exciting debate on Twitter. BRIDE OF FRANKENson, formerly Kristina Halvorson, asked „Is a „content strategy“ a „content plan“?“


Hilary Marsh says: „So much more than that: editorial guidelines, calendar, governance, content models, workflow, measurement, accountability, metadata, CMSs …“

Devin Ascarecrow says: I use „content plan“ as a deliverable that communicates the content strategy. I wouldn’t use the two interchangeably.
Hilary Marsh
replies: „I call that deliverable the „content strategy playbook.“ IMO, the plan is really just the editorial calendar.“

says: „Maybe a plan is a subset? My instinct is to say that having a strategy means you know what your plan is supposed go towards.“

says: „I think many organizations would benefit from that definition. But ideally a „content plan“ is a gateway drug to better strategy.“

says: „Content strategy is the map and compass while content plan is the ship.

Kelli Robertson says:A strategy is the guiding principles or policy that govern the plan. The plan is the tactics and actions.

says: „I think the difference here is scale; a strategy is long-term, whereas a plan (or tactics) are more near-future.

says: „I’m not 100% sure these terms mean an awful lot across different sectors of the industry. There are singular skillsets, obviously, from IA, library science and site structure all the way through to writing and marketing. But people seem to group different sets of them under different headings as they see fit. It feels like social media a bit to me, as a term it clearly means something and is useful if you really try and nail it down. Or differentiate it from other things, then everyone’s perspectives seem to radically diverge and a dozen strands appear.“

says: „When selling „Content Strategy“ as a capability we’ve called the main deliverable a „Content Plan“

says:I tell my clients „these are not universal definitions“ and then use what works for THEM.

I keep asking

Benjamin Snow says: „From my perspective, a plan is the operationalization of a strategy. The strategy is the general course and the reasoning, and the plan is the day to day or week to week of how to get there. Some people have a plan of action but with very little strategy, so they are not critically reasoning about the direction they are going, others have a strategy, or the critical reasoning, but don’t have a good plan how to get go about their strategy.“

Jan Dittrich sagt: „Eine Strategie ist mittel bis langfristig, ein Plan kann auch kurzfristig sein. bzw, „Plan“ umfasst „Taktik“ und „Strategie“ (und ist damit auch weniger spezifisch). Plan ist übergeordnet; „einen Plan haben“ könnte sowohl heißen „eine Strategie haben“ als auch „eine Taktik haben“.“

Andy Goldstein says: „I think, strategy is bigger than planning. Strategy is more tied to vision. It has a component to it, that allows people to decide that they wanna go on a mission. So if you say the people „follow me into the fog“, people don’t usually want to do that. They wanna understand where they’re going. If you put the vision up first, and then you start say how do we get there, poeple come out at a different way. Planning is much more „once we’ve decided what we’re gonna do, what’s the details of it, what is the… you might say strategy is top down and planning is bottom up, but one doesn’t work without the other. Strategy without a plan is not a good idea.

I have a saying which I use a lot in business plans, because we do that, which is plan the work and work the plan. So, a plan that static and does not change and does not adapt to reality is usually not a good plan and the same with a strategy.“


Don’t let strategy become planning by Roger Martin

Strategie – eine Definition by Achim Sztuka (German)

2 Gedanken auf "What is the difference between „strategy“ and „plan“?"

  1. Hilary Marsh Antworten

    Thank you for capturing this discussion! I think it’s important for us to understand the difference between a strategy and a plan, and to help our clients „get it“ also. While the specific strategies and plans vary from one client to the next, in my opinion, the definitions of „strategy“ and „plan“ don’t change. A strategy is why you’ll do something, and a plan is how to get there.

    • Granaton Antworten

      Thank you so much, Hilary! I appreciate your clear mind a lot. You say, strategy is WHY and plan is HOW. Can we collect a few examples for case studies where the difference between WHY and HOW is distinct?

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