The interactive illustration below summarises the key stages of SEA and shows how these are linked to the decision-making process. The stages do not necessarily follow neatly one after the other: for instance the aim of the strategic action may change after alternatives have been identified.
As discussed earlier SEA is a process: something that occurs over time, not a "snapshot" assessment of a strategic action.
The emphasis throughout this course is on SEA involvement in the formulation of the strategic action, looking at the evolving strategic action afresh and being willing to change and improve it in the light of the broader perspectives brought to its formulation. SEA should be an active tool for improving a strategic action (a spade) rather than a passive snapshot of the strategic action (a camera).