GoalObjectiveStrategyMapNothing goes according to plan without a plan. Without a plan, where do you start? Without a plan, how do you choose where to go next? Without a plan, how do you know if you’ve arrived?

From visionary goals to “to-do lists,” plans – along with the closely related program designs, logic models, and theories of change – keep us focused on where we want to end up and how we’re going to get there. A plan is a map with destinations (objectives, output goals, outcome goals) and roads (strategies, activities, tasks).


Select image to download as a pdf.



Outputs (goals) are products, typically reported as quantities.

What and how many artworks were created, performances produced,
services provided, patrons served, study guides produced and distributed?

Stuff. Things. Events.



Outcomes (goals) are what we want to happen as a result of the outputs we’ve produced. What will change for our audiences, participants, customers, patrons – our stakeholders?

If we are successful, how will our stakeholders be different after they participate?
What changes do we want to see in their circumstances, status, behavior, functioning?
In their attitudes, knowledge, skills, understanding?
Or perhaps we’re simply hoping we can maintain a level of achievement (not fall behind), prevent an unwanted outcome or behavior (not drop out, not fail, not be held back).



Objectives narrow the focus of outcome and/or output goals. Intermediate-level achievement that that we need to measure to find out if we’re moving toward our goals.

Nouns not verbs. What not how.



Strategies are things we do in order to achieve our objectives and goals. How are we going to get there? “To promote . . . to provide . . . to foster . . . ” Strategies make up the framework of our action plan.

Verbs not nouns. How not what.

Activities (execution) are the moving parts of our strategies, the bits and pieces of our action plan. How do we execute our strategies? What do we need to deliver or coordinate to bring a strategy to fruition?

Smaller how.

Tasks (tactics) are the doings – our list of daily deliverables, the Lincoln Logs of our activities. Smallish deeds, gestures, and actions by way of which we carry out our activities and implement our strategies.

Even smaller how.

Next up . . .
Basically Speaking: Did we get there and did it work? »