No Image Available

Seb Anthony

Read more from Seb Anthony

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

The difference between a L+D strategy and an L+D plan?


Working in and with a number of organisations I find that many use the terms strategy and plan interchangably. What do you think is the difference between the two? When I tackle this with many organisations I get the brick wall that it is akin to criticising their work so a firm difference in terms of definition would be useful in winning that battle.
craig mitchell

4 Responses

  1. Strategic v Operational
    Hi Craig

    I’ve worked with a number of organisations, who have a whole range of ideas about what these two terms mean. For me, a strategy is the ‘why’ – what is the bigger picture, the vision, the values or the market forces that are driving you or the business towards a certain point. Whereas the plan is the ‘how’ – what needs to happen to make the strategy come to life, what are the specific action points, deliverables and responsibilities.
    Each business will have its own unique set of terms, I don’t think you’ll ever find a commonly agreed approach. I think what’s more important is to come to an understanding with your clients about how they use the terms, and help them to think about which tasks or activities are strategic and which are operational – in my experience this is where you’ll need to offer moat guidance and support.

    I hope you find this useful Craig. If you’d like to discuss it in more detail, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].


  2. On the other hand…
    Of course, it was bound to happen – you came here for clarity and I am going to contradict the previous commenter by expressing my view that a plan is the “what” and the strategy is the “how”.

  3. A debate about semantics rather than L&D issues
    I don’t think this debate is specific to the management of organisational learning and development – it’s really a simple question about semantics. There is a subtle distinction between a strategy and a plan.

    A strategy is a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal.

    A plan is a proposed or intended method of getting from one set of circumstances to another.

    For exploration of this issue and the important distinction between strategy and tactics see:

    Trust this clears this issue up.

    Best wishes

  4. a cynical view (that might explain the brick wall)
    The higher up the organisation a person is, and the more fragile their self esteem, the less likely they are to be prepared to accept that they have anything to do with “plans”,
    “implementation” or “operations” and the more likely they are describe anything they do as “strategic”

    In my days in uniform it was said that strategy was described by a hand wave over an area of a map but to describe a plan you needed a sharp pointer.



Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!