This chapter explores what is meant by “strategy” and “strategic planning” and why strategic planning is important for building and sustaining effective and thriving arts and culture organizations from the perspective of an experienced strategic planning consultant. Strategic planning is a process through which an arts organization clarifies and affirms its vision, mission, and values, as well as its goals, strategies, and objectives for some set timeframe into the future in order to put the organization in a stronger, more sustainable position, better able to fulfill its mission and serve its stakeholders. The chapter sets forth the elements of an effective strategic planning cycle that progresses from Alignment through Discovery, Diagnosis, and Decision and Action. The cycle is illustrated through two representative U.S. arts organizations – a historical museum in a small rural town and an orchestra in a large city. Additional examples are provided to furnish arts organization context to the concepts being explored. The chapter concludes with a return to Alignment – the nexus of the plan itself as well as the planning process – between community need and interest, organizational mission and capacity, and the goals and priorities of the resulting strategic plan.