Recommended format for defining strategies

Sections of this topic

    (Adapted from The Executive Guide to Facilitating Strategy)

    During strategic planning, as your team arrives at the stage of defining the broad activities – the strategies – your team will undertake to move your vision into reality, we recommend a specific format for writing those strategies.

    To ensure clarity of your strategies, use the verb-object-purpose format.

    Since strategies are “broad activities” the verb-object-purpose format starts with action (verb), states what is acted upon (object) and explains why (purpose). The sample strategies that follow demonstrate the verb-object-purpose format.

    Sample Strategies
    • Create sales leveraging tools to assist the sales team in growing accounts
    • Develop and implement a vertical marketing strategy to increase revenue by capitalizing on existing customer knowledge
    • Implement an incentive bonus program to reward caregivers for productivity, client success, and client satisfaction
    • Hold briefings with at least three agencies a quarter to hear about their needs and update them on our programs and direction
    • Revamp the partner program to increase the number of partners, revenue, and residual
    • Reengineer our product development process to reduce cycle time and increase efficiencies
    • Establish a partnership with a Japanese manufacturer to revamp the northeast plant
    • Hold quarterly committee fairs after meetings to increase member involvement
    • Implement a program to widely promote our success as a quality producer
    • Develop a manager “professional development” program to improve managers’ ability to coach their teams and to increase morale and productivity

    Strategy Verbs

    With the verb-object-purpose format, the selection of the verb is important.

    With strategies, be sure to start with a “strategy” verb and not an “objective” verb.

    The table that follows illustrates the difference between objective and strategy verbs. Verbs on the left column of the table will tend to lead you to describe the results to be achieved. The verbs on the right will tend to lead you to describe the action to be taken. While objectives focus on results, strategies focus on action.

    Sample Objective Verbs
    (quantitative verbs)

    Sample Strategy Verbs
    (finite verbs)











    Find more tips, techniques, and hands-on training through our course, Secrets to Facilitating Strategy. Contact one of our experienced facilitators for expert guidance in building your team’s strategy.


    Certified Master Facilitator Michael Wilkinson is the CEO and Managing Director of Leadership Strategies, Inc., The Facilitation Company, and author of The Secrets of Facilitation 2nd Edition, The Secrets to Masterful Meetings, and The Executive Guide to Facilitating Strategy. Leadership Strategies is a global leader in meeting facilitation, providing companies with dynamic professional facilitators who lead executive teams and task forces in areas like strategic planning, issue resolution, process improvement, and others. The company is also a leading provider of facilitation training in the United States, having trained over 19,000 individuals.