The strategic planning process aims, precisely, to formulate the strategy. That is, define it; think about where we are going and how we will get there. It is a process where the journey or the process itself is much more important than the result.
There is an outline developed by David Garvin, a renowned Harvard Business School professor that details the four stages of strategic planning. The diagram below is simple, simple to understand, and, at the same time, very complete.
1. Analysis of the environment. This part is focused on the diagnosis to see if the industry is attractive and how intense the competition is. This is about identifying, as objectively as possible, the opportunities (events that can be taken advantage of) and threats (circumstances that can be harmful).
Likewise, it is necessary to do a self-diagnosis with humility, that is, with objectivity towards the company and towards ourselves. This will allow us to know what are the strengths (capacities, competencies, or abilities), will allow us to take advantage of the opportunities and to identify the weaknesses (or limitations) which can prevent a company from competing effectively.
Once the industry has been analyzed and the self-diagnosis performed, it is worth creating two or three possible scenarios of situations that may arise. This with the intention of testing or knowing if you are prepared to face them and to identify the possible danger signals that indicate if these scenarios can come true.
2. Formulation. The frame of reference of a company is defined by the mission (the reason for being), the vision (what the future looks like, how I see myself, in about 10 or 20 years), and the philosophy and values (the beliefs and culture of the company). In this framework, the company will have a context from which it can formulate the strategy with its three components: objectives, action plan to achieve them, and capabilities and resources that will allow me to carry out said action plan.
3. Programming. It is the bridge stage between formulation and execution, where the goals to be achieved and, with some precision, the activities to achieve those objectives are clearly specified.
4. Execution. It is about carrying out the programs by implementing the tasks, coordinating the initiatives, communicating the priorities, and giving a good follow-up.
As you read, this is a simple, sober, and simple scheme, from which the process of strategic planning can be well understood; and, not only that: it can also help as a guide to carry it out.