Your organization’s strategic framework is a document that contains your vision, mission, values, plans, objectives, and tactics. It may contain a lot of information but can be written in a relatively concise fashion.

Your strategic framework contains your complete vision for the direction of your organization. If your leadership team chooses, it can also include the organization’s strengths, customers, resources, reasons for past successes, and more.

It creates a shared language for thinking about the strategy you use to acquire customers and earn a profit. Executives, strategic planners, and managers can reference it as they create budgets, choose annual objectives, and make plans.

What Is the Difference Between a Framework and a Strategy?

An organization’s strategy is just one element (often out of six) of the whole strategy framework document. Organizations often write their vision, mission, and values before deciding on a strategy that could accomplish their mission.

If the strategy framework were an iceberg, then vision, mission, and values would be out of sight under the water. The strategy would be the first visible part of the iceberg, expressing what is underneath, and objectives and tactics would rest on top of the strategy and express it further.

What Comes First: Strategy or Plan?

How do you define a strategic framework vs. a strategic plan? Remember that the framework comes first. Leaders use the elements of the strategic framework to form specific plans involving dates, budgets, personnel, and so on.

The framework includes many of the elements needed for plans, such as the specific approaches (strategies) that your organization uses, the objectives you are striving toward, and the tactics you currently favor. One can create plans by applying these elements to current market conditions and customer needs, turning them into measurable, time-bound actions.

Plans may be more likely to be successful when planners align their details with the strategic framework, and this could certainly result in better alignment and more agreement across departments.

people sitting around business table with lightbulb in foreground

What Are the Six Elements of a Strategic Framework?

There are many ways to write out your strategic framework, but a wise way to start is with the six elements below.

1. Vision

This is an organization’s picture of the ideal outcome they would like to pursue for the future. Many organizations think inwardly on this item, making statements akin to, “We will be the best in our industry.”

However, you are also free to imagine lofty, nearly unattainable dreams for changes you might make in the wider world; for example, your organization could improve the status of your entire industry for all players. Or you could contribute to a United Nations goal, such as eliminating hunger or providing affordable, clean energy.

2. Mission

A mission expresses a broad picture of how your organization will behave in the present to move toward your vision of the future.

3. Values

These are the ideals and principles your organization will defend at any cost—and knowing what they are will also help you define the ones you will avoid at all costs. They are what you stand for, the principles that inform everything you do.

4. Objectives

Objectives are specific goals whose achievement will make your strategy tangible. They are easily measurable.

5. Strategy

A strategy is a well-defined approach your organization will use to realize your mission and values. It should be carefully formulated to meet current market conditions, attract customers, and earn a profit.

6. Tactics

Tactics are clearly expressed methods of executing your strategy and moving toward your objectives. They should also be in harmony with your values, mission, and vision.

Leaders should evaluate several different possible tactics based on their cost efficiency and likelihood of success depending on internal and external factors and forecasts of market conditions. Tactics will guide plans and behaviors all over the organization, so they should be chosen carefully.

What Are the Different Types of Frameworks?

While an organization can write a strategic framework using the template above, other possible strategic framework models exist. There are strategic framework templates going back several decades like the Five Forces Model, and new ones like Blue Ocean Strategy. You may want to do some research to decide which model is the best fir for your organization.

Organizations can use alternative types of strategic frameworks to focus and sharpen their thinking, placing details about their organization into a template to gain insights into strategies and objectives they might adopt. There are even strategic frameworks for government entities, with spaces to write their vision, guiding principles, major initiatives, and more.