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Organizational Planning: Strategic Planning Versus Operational Planning

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Organizational goals without planning are meaningless. Planning is essential for organizations to reach their short-term and long-term goals. A goal is created to define an organization’s vision (CSU-Global, n.d.). In the article Strategic Management: Formulation and Implementation Barnat (n.d.) describes a plan as, “a written document that specifics the courses of action the organization will take” (para. 1). There are various types of planning organizations uses such as strategic and operational. Barnat argues planning include four major dimensions including repetitiveness, time, scope and level (n.d, Barnat). The difference between these plans is based on the four dimensions. The organization’s goals are also included in the planning process. Strategic and operational planning is necessary to reach organizational goals because they keep an organization focused on the vision and provides staff with direction.

Types of Plans

Organizations use multiple planning methods to reach goals. Two common planning methods are strategic planning and operational planning. Both strategic and operational planning help the organization reach short and long term goals. These plans differ in many ways however, serve a similar purpose. Strategic planning is based on the big picture while operational planning is based on detailing the goals. Strategic and operational plans work together to reach organizational goals.

Strategic Planning

Organizations use strategic planning to reach long term goals. These types of plans can take three to five years to reach (CSU-Global, n.d.). The organizations teams work together to strategically plan for the future. Strategic planning does not happen on its own or overnight. In the journal article “Strategic planning for rapid & profitable growth” Lorange (1996) states, “Strategic planning does not happen by itself” (p.47). What Lorange means is a lot of time, effort and collaboration go into strategic planning. Strategic planning provides vision for the organization. In the article Strategic Management: Formulation and Implementation Barnat (n.d.) states, strategic planning “provides direction for an organization’s mission, objectives and strategies” (para. 9). Strategic planning focuses on the bigger picture of the organization’s purpose. Strategic planning also includes decisions that can impact the direction of the company (Barnat, n.d.). Therefore, it is important to careful assess the organization purpose while planning. Overall, strategic planning is a long term strategy that provides a vision for the organization. (CSU-Global, n.d.). Having a shared vision is critical to reaching an organizations goals. Strategic plans keep an organization’s vision in mind while planning.

Operational Planning

Operational planning is also necessary to reach an organization’s goals. Unlike strategic planning, operational planning is based on the short term goals. Operational planning details how to reach long term goals (CSU-Global, n.d.). An organization uses operational planning to reach their strategic plan. Operational planning is appropriate when thinking daily tasks and projects such as budgets (Barnat, n.d.). Basically, any small project that helps an organization reach their strategic plan falls into operational planning. Operational planning includes steps of action the organization should take to reach the strategic plan (Barnat, n.d.). It is important to consider the organization’s strategic plan when planning daily operations. The strategic plan should always be the main goal. In the journal article “Improving Strategic Planning by Adapting Agile Methods to the Planning Process” Cervone states, “Leaders within an organization also need to guard against becoming too focused on current issues to detriment of longer range planning” (p.158). Cervone argues that it is easy to forget about the bigger picture when using operational planning. It is critical to not forget the strategic plan when focusing on daily actions. Without operational planning, the strategic plan would never happen. In general, operational planning serves as a stepping stone to reach the organization’s strategic plan.


In conclusion, planning is a necessity to reach organizational goals. Plans provide a vision for an organization and give staff direction. Once long and short term goals are established, then the planning process can begin. Organizations should use strategic planning to focus on the future and vision of the company. Operational planning should be used to focus on the actions taken. The differences are strategic planning focuses on the big picture, and operational planning focuses on the steps to take to reach the bigger picture. Operational plans focus on short term goals and are treated as stepping stones to reach strategic plans. Both operational planning and strategic planning are vital for organizations to reach long and short term goals.

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