014: Strategic Planning • Strategies to Tactics

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Strategic Planning • Strategies to Tactics

Strategic planning is a critical step or dot, as I like to say, as we connect the dots from Mission to Execution. 

The strategic plan is your blueprint to create your strategies to serve your mission & vision and address the opportunities and needs identified in the situational analysis.    

”If you do not know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere. 

- Henry A. Kissinger 

So, lets plan where we are going so we can get somewhere!   

 The foundation of your strategic plan include: 

  • Strategies
    • How we will achieve our vision 
  • Goals 
    • What we must achieve to get there 
  • Objectives
    • How we will gauge our degree of success 
    • Concrete, measurable milestones on the way to achieving a goal 
  • Action  
    • Planned specific actions to achieve objective  
  • Metric 
    • Measure of success 

I am going to take you on a 10 step process to create your detailed strategic plan.   


There are several important sections to the strategic plan and some additional suggestions that will support execution steps.  We will go through each of the steps in detail but first a summary of the 10 steps.  

  1. Strategic Pillar 
  2. Goal Brainstorming 
  3. Objective Brainstorming 
  4. Prioritization and Timeline 
  5. SMART Objectives 
  6. Metrics 
  7. Actions/Tactics 
  8. Accountability - RACI 
  9. Resource Needs 
  10. Summary Plan 

So how and where you create your strategic plan can be important. 

Strategic Planning Workshop / Retreat 

This can be a fun and engaging process as you get to involve your entire team. Consider conducting your planning in an offsite setting for a retreat.  This will allow time away to focus on the planning away from the day to day.  Depending on the size of your team, you may not be able to have everyone attend, but you can get input from the extended team. 

Helpful Tips: 

  • Plan for 3 days total  
  • Strategic Plan Situational Analysis – 1 day  
  • Strategic Plan – Strategies & Objectives – 1 day  
  • Complete the process steps through #5 
  • Strategic Plan – Metrics & Tactics – 1 day 
  • I think it is best to separate this day from the first two days.  Allow some time for the strategies and objectives to sink in and ensure you are comfortable with the prioritization and timelines and they are realistic.    
  • Sometimes we get too optimistic with strategic planning because we know there is so much we want to do. 
  • Invite diverse attendees to provide input in advance and during the retreat 
  • Strategic brainstorming is a key part of this process and there are various techniques to facilitate the session. You want to get input and allow innovation!! 

1. Strategic Pillar 

You will likely be starting with your organization strategic pillars or those of the pharmacy enterprise to start and align with. These can be flexible based on your organizations mission/vision and strategic pillars.  For the Pharmacy Enterprise Pillars you will use Operations, Acute Care Clinical, Ambulatory Care, Outpatient/Retail, Business, and People. For Organization Pillars the most common are Quality/Safety, Patient Experience, Employee/Provider Engagement, and FinancialEither way, you will want to cross reference to the respective pillar to connect the dots as you develop your plan. 

2. Goal Brainstorming 

 Next steps is strategic goal brainstorming.  The reason I say strategic is you will use prior strategic plans and situational analysis as the basis for the brainstorming.  We are not starting from scratch at this point and we want to be complete in our brainstorming by thinking of all the opportunities and needs from the situational analysis.  

 You may consider breaking into groups by pillar and then use facilitation techniques like a gallery want to get input from the other groups. Circle back and ensure systematic review of situational analysis 

 I like to think of goals as the big buckets.  Try to stay high level at this point but capture all ideas even if they are more tactical and put them in a parking lot.  Know that you may be able to group things together under goals and objectives.   

 3. Objective Brainstorming 

Now you want to think about the more concrete objectives under each goal.  I tend to think of these as what could be an individual project to support the broader goal. You can start to make them into SMART objectives, but I usually reserve that for a separate step.  I want to make sure we have captured all the ideas at this point and don’t get bogged down into the wording of a SMART Objective.  

For example, a goal might be to Improve Medication Reconciliation and the Objectives I would capture at this point are admission medication reconciliation and discharge medication reconciliation.  I would consider another objective as ambulatory medication reconciliation too and may need to prioritize this in a later year in the next step depending on available resources.  

 4. Prioritization and Timeline 

I know. I know. There is way more to be done that there is time and resources for. But to ensure success, we will need to prioritize to our key goals. There tends to be an “eyes are bigger than our stomachs” effect as we do this process. This is now our opportunity to get back to reality. 

Here are some ways to prioritize:


  • Individuals choose their top 5-10 choices and you can eliminate or delay goals with less selection 


  • Use your organization score if one exists which are usually related to organization pillars. You can score on a scale of 1-10 these important criteria such as quality, safety, patient experience, regulatory, efficiency, financial.  

Priority Matrix – Impact vs Effort 

  • This tool creates a nice visual where each objective Low to High on Impact and Low to High on Effort/Ease 


  • Once you have prioritized, you will be able to put a fiscal year to the goals.  Be realistic and to capture future goals in future years. While some feel creating a 3-5 year plan is not a good idea. I fall in the middle of creating a 3 year plan so that you have the ability to plan for the future and not feel pressured to get everything done in one year.  The important part of a 3 year plan is to know that it will be tweaked as you revisit it every year.  

How Many Strategies? 

This is one of the hardest questions at this stage.  It will be based on resources required for execution and resources available.  You also want to make sure that you do not schedule all your time - plan for unscheduled projects/priorities. In general having 3-4 goals per responsible person can work – again depending on the scope.  

Regardless of the total number, choose 3-4 goals that will be the top priorities 

5. SMART Objectives 

Now is the time to get more specific on the objectives to get the detail of what will be achieved and in what timeframe.  This is a familiar process to make SMART objective, but cannot be overlooked.   

  • S – Specific 
  • M – Measurable 
  • A – Attainable / Achievable 
  • R – Realistic / Relevant 
  • T – Time Bound  

6. Metrics 

From your SMART objectives you will be able to easily define what is the specific quantitative target. You can consider outcomes and process metrics.  

Choosing a target and reach/max is valuableThe target should be realistically achievable while the reach should be just that – a reach that is inspiring and motivating.  

 7. Actions / Tactics 

It is common for tactics to be discussed during strategic goal planning. But, it is important to differentiate tactics from goals/objectives.  Remember, these are the specific actions to achieve objective. In the strategic plan, capture the key tactics, not every detailed step – that will come with the individual project plans per objective. 

 8. Accountability – RACI 

Next comes assigning accountability for the execution of the goal/objective. Here are some of the key roles when it comes to accountability and identifying the stakeholders.  

  • Sponsor – Usually a department Director or high level leader 
  • Committee – It is helpful to assign objectives to department committees for reporting and tracking.  
  • RACI - Brings structure and clarity to describing the roles that stakeholders play  
  • Responsible: People or stakeholders who do the work. They must complete the task or objective or make the decision. Several people can be jointly Responsible.  Think staff and resident. 
  • Accountable: Person or stakeholder who is the "owner" of the work. He or she must sign off or approve when the task, objective or decision is complete. This person must make sure that responsibilities are assigned in the matrix for all related activities. Success requires that there is only one person Accountable, which means that "the buck stops there." 
  • Consulted: People or stakeholders who need to give input before the work can be done and signed-off on. These people are "in the loop" and active participants.  
  • Informed: People or stakeholders who need to be kept "in the picture." They need updates on progress or decisions, but they do not need to be formally consulted, nor do they contribute directly to the task or decision.  
  • The responsible and accountable should be assigned at this point and the Consult and Informed can come during the project planning process. It may even be worthwhile to identify the Responsible and Accountable prior to the prioritization if assessing the number of projects per person is critical.  

 9. Resource Needs 

 As you start the strategic planning process, don’t limit your brainstorming to items you can do with existing resources You can resource new initiatives if there is existing capacity, reallocate to new initiatives or advocate for new resources. Identify needs for a business plan to advocate for resources – usually people Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) or Capital (Equipment/Construction)IT Resources can also be limited so identifying which objectives require IT can be helpful in advance. Just be sure not to commit to new initiatives without confirmation of needed resources.  You know my motto is to be bold as I believe pharmacy can do more with more! 

 10. Strategic Plan Summary 

Finally, you will want to create a clear summary of the strategic plan. The strategic plan worksheet is valuable for internal use, but you will want to create a summary slide that can be communicated broadly. Consider sharing the pillars and goals with or without the objectives. 

“Plan where you are going and get where you want to be!”

- Kimber Boothe 

 Congratulations!  These ten steps will create your comprehensive strategic plan. Upon completion of the strategic plan you will want to take the next steps to execution.  A project plan should be created for each goal /objective and the strategic plan turned into a status / execution tracker. 

If you did not start with a situational analysis head on over to or 012 for an overview of connecting the dots.   If you want to move on to justifying resources to deliver on your strategic plan then stay tuned for my next post on Business Plans to learn more about this next step.  If you want to go deeper – check out my Pharmovation Course which is a facilitate implementation program that provides additional templates and examples with the opportunity to obtain feedback on your analysis. 

 In this week's blog post at, you will be able to access the Strategic Plan Template as the free blog download  Creating this comprehensive document is useful for internal and external communication and tracking.   

  Join the ongoing conversation at and subscribe to my email list so we can connect regularly and you will receive content I don't share anywhere else.   

Now it's your turn: 

Let us know what strategic pillars you will use if they are different and any other factors to help prioritize.  Share your insights and what actions you will take in the comments section at 

 Be bold, be a connector and pharmovator, and excel your life and advance pharmacy practice.  




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