Goal Setting and Strategic Planning by Stephen Walker of Motivation Matters


What is a goal and what is a strategic plan? A goal is something you want to achieve, a desire and the strategic plan is an outline of what you think is the best way to attain that goal.

A strategic plan may encompass a business plan, a project plan, an action plan and a personal development plan amongst many.

You may think you can survive without goals and strategic plans. You probably can. But you won’t progress, won’t explore new opportunities and you will never know just what you could have achieved!

Goals and strategies are important to you personally and to you in business. If you have developed strategies to achieve your goals you will be looking for opportunities to progress them. You will be amazed how often serendipity delivers exactly what you need to achieve your goal or a step toward it.

If you do not have goals and strategies these opportunities pass by unnoticed.

If you have ever asked “why don’t I get those opportunities?” or “why am I so unlucky?” then goal setting and strategic planning is for you!

What goals and strategic plans do for you

Simply they are a path, a direction to a desired goal. The path must be followed and operational plans are needed to achieve the strategic plans and reach the goal.

Clausewitz, the master of military planning, said the best of plans are confounded in the fog of war. This is undoubtedly true. The real world rarely behaves in the way you planned. However you stand the best chance of achieving your goal if you marshal resources according to your strategic plan and strive to follow it with focus, clarity, passion, discipline and action.


It is hard to imagine not having a goal. Maintaining the status quo is a goal. Without a goal you will be buffeted by life’s storms and not reach your destination.

It is perfectly proper to have a number of goals. You may want to have just one or two inspiring goals that are important to you.

You will have heard about SMART goals. You can read about our antidote to SMART goals – DUMB goals in another blog.

You may want to have a buccaneering approach to goals. That is to say you want to be ready to snap up any opportunity that comes your way. This may be a valid goal. To be ready to “snap up an opportunity” you need to look for and find one. You need to have the resources and processes in place that allows you to snap into action. The assembling of those resources and the planning of those processes follows your strategic plan to be ready to snap up any opportunity.

Strategic Plans, Resources and Operating Plans

Each of your strategic plans will need resources and operating plans to achieve.

In large organisations goals and strategies are often set in Headquarters planning departments. They will be passed down to Strategic Business Units (SBU) as a goal for that unit. Those SBU goals are broken down into departmental goals and operating plans.

A major risk of failure stems from failing to plan in enough detail. Passing this responsibility down to the lowest level capable of delivering the plan increases the realism and chance of success.

We are all more motivated by “our” plan – in which we had a say – than a plan foisted upon us.

Separating goal setting and strategic planning from operational planning and fulfilment runs the risk of setting unachievable goals.

When you set your goals you need to drill down through layer after layer until you reach the people who do the work. Only when each layer supports the one above is success at all likely.


Most people and organisations do not set themselves goals and develop plans to achieve them.

It is not an easy task and needs a disciplined and detailed approach to more likely achieve success.

Should you set a goal to be better at strategic planning?

Public workshops are available through The Paradigm Shakers

In-company workshops are available through Motivation Matters


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