Strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy, including its capital and people. Various business analysis techniques can be used in strategic planning, including SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats ), PEST analysis
(Political, Economic, Social, and Technological), STEER analysis (Socio-cultural, Technological, Economic, Ecological, and Regulatory factors), and EPISTEL (Environment, Political, Informatic, Social, Technological, Economic and Legal).
Strategic planning has also been described as a tool - but it is not a substitute for the exercise of judgment by leadership. Ultimately, the leaders of any enterprise need to sit back and ask, and answer, "What are the most important issues to respond to?" and "How shall we respond?" Just as the hammer does not create the bookshelf, so the data analysis and decision-making tools of strategic planning do not make the organization work - they can only support the intuition, reasoning skills, and judgment that people bring to their organization.
It follows, then, that strategic management is the application of strategic thinking to the job of leading an organization. Dr. Jagdish Sheth, a respected authority on marketing and strategic planning, provides the following framework for understanding strategic management: continually asking the question, "Are we doing the right thing?" It entails attention to the "big picture" and the willingness to adapt to changing circumstances, and consists of the following three elements: