- When was the last time your organization engaged in strategic planning?
- Was it a good experience for you?
- What changed as a result of your planning?
A well-crafted and well-used Strategic Plan will:
- Define powerful strategies to advance your mission.
- Create a clear plan for the future.
- Energize and motivate the board by providing a rigorous, yet highly participatory process.
- Clarify your role and focus — thereby fostering deeper understanding of your organization and even greater commitment to garnering resources to advance the mission.
- Create benchmarks and accountabilities to assess progress.
A great Strategic Plan clarifies the mission, energizes and motivates the board, and guides you to have meaningful impact in the community. Your plan should be dynamic, fresh, relevant, and memorable. Be sure to incorporate these key concepts into your next strategic planning process.
The Seven Pillars of Great Strategic Planning:
- Create a Planning Team. Identify a few key board and staff members to champion the planning process, remove barriers, and keep it on track! This group will meet on a regular basis to craft the plan, and will then present it to the full board for direction and decisions.
- Get Outside Input. Engage in a thorough Environmental Scan to gain valuable outside perspectives. This may include interviews with key stakeholders, surveys of clients and constituents, focus groups, and more! Do not skimp on this critical step! You may be blinded to some key issues about your organization that others, on the outside, can see clearly.
- Get Inside Input. Your line-level staff has wisdom, gained through years of hands-on experience, that can be invaluable to your planning process. Make sure that they have opportunities to contribute to the new Strategic Plan! Engage them in discussions about drafts of the plan, survey them, and set up ways for them to offer their comments and suggestions.
- Keep it Short. Condense your new Strategic Plan down to 3 – 5 main strategies. The document should not be longer than 8 to 10 pages. Everyone in your organization should be able to remember and communicate the main points of the Plan.
- Make it Meaningful. Great Strategic Plans don’t just engage your brain – they capture your heart. Focus on the values that drive your organization when designing your plan. Think about the “why” and not just the “what.”
- Embed the Plan in Your Organization. Once you have a new Strategic Plan in place, make sure that it is embedded in your organization’s culture and practice. Align accountabilities and reporting with your Plan’s key strategies. Make the Plan visible to all staff with posters and signs. Everyone in your organization should understand how their work relates to the Plan.
- Revisit Annually. Check in annually to make sure that the Plan accommodates new information and circumstances. Check off the items that have been accomplished in the previous year and update the annual work plans of the board and staff. Be sure to celebrate your accomplishments along the way. When your board and staff are aligned with a common vision and plan, great things can and do happen!
Trudy originally wrote this as a guest post for Management HQ, a leading Twin Cities-based association management firm.