People can be so imaginative. While many of us are content with the traditional combination of peanut butter and chocolate, chefs and food enthusiasts are combining seemingly unrelated products to yield culinary genius. Take the recent trend of cronuts, which is a croissant-donut hybrid, or bacon cinnamon rolls. It reminds us of one of our favorite concepts: “It’s not an either/or world; it’s a both/and world.” We referenced it recently while discussing the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan with a group of community enthusiasts at the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. The truth is that strategic plans and business plans are more alike than different and can be combined together to create social sector genius.

As we discussed last week, business plans are more popular in the social sector than ever before, but it does not mean that strategic plans are not equally needed. In fact, a strategic business plan is a nice hybrid between the two. As the graphic above suggests, they have very similar recipes.

The foundation of a strategic plan is mission, vision and values of an organization, which can be directly connected to an organization’s market, fit and customer. Both of these foundations serve as the “true north” for the organization, but they can and should be modified as the environment changes.

The process between creating a strategic plan and a business plan are also remarkably similar. You start with an internal and external scan, or research, to gather insights on the best direction for the organization. Those insights become the basis for an organization’s strategy, which is value creation for a business and impact for a social sector organization. In both cases, value and impact must be coupled with sustainability. Then, strategy is followed by execution, which can be set via  goals, objectives and an action plan (also known as a dashboard). A business plan takes execution to the next level of detail and dictates the resources needed to be successful, e.g., personnel, operations.

However, the outcome associated with each planning process is different. A strategic plan charts the long-term direction of an organization, while a business plan tests the feasibility of a business or organization.

Taken together, a business plan and strategic plan communicate the same thing – confidence in the future direction. So, the hybrid strategic business plan communicates not only your vision for the future, but also how you plan to get there. It combines hopes and dreams with reality. Isn’t that a recipe for the sector that we all want?

We’d love to get your recipe for strategic plans and/or business plans and your opinion about their usefulness within the social sector.

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