If you’ve worked for non profit organizations, chances are you have been part of some form of a strategic planning process. Strategic planning is a term describing an activity that creates a document that serves as a path for an organization to move forward to fulfill its mission. There seems to be some mixed feelings about strategic planning, however. The process has a reputation of being onerous, time consuming, and ineffective. But if done well, strategic planning can be a transformative experience that builds a sense of purpose, creates clarity, and strengthens an organization’s ability to make a meaningful societal impact.
A good strategic planning process does the following:
- Creates space to be reflective.
- Allows teams to acknowledge their accomplishments, as well as their challenges, understand their current situation, and work together to build a vision for its future.
- Involves all parts of the organization, from the entry-level worker to the Executive Director, to the board of directors, to the recipient of the organization’s services.
- Develops short-term and long-term actionable plans. Once the plan is finalized, a date should be set for the group to come together to report on the progress made on the action items and make changes to the plan so it better reflects reality.
- Identifies a set of values that serves as a “compass” for the organization as it grows and changes.
- Promotes honesty and transparency.
- Identifies and works from common ground ideas.
Once the strategic plan is written, follow up is key. Revisiting and updating the plan helps the team measure its progress and make course corrections if needed. These plans usually plot out a direction for 2 - 5 years, and the first 18 months should be quite detailed, describing a set of steps to take, with names of people who are responsible for the implementation. The part of the plan focused on the next 18 - 36 months is more general - a grand sketch of what the organization is reaching for. The details can be filled in when it gets closer to the target dates.
These are just general ideas about strategic planning. At Lydia Sierra Consulting, we consider the client when determining a planning process and the final outcome. The primary objective is for the plan to reflect the needs of the organization and to be used - not placed on a shelf, never to be used. We ask a lot of questions, learn about the organizational culture, and work collaboratively with the client to design and conduct strategic planning.
If you are interested in a consultation to learn more about how we approach Strategic Planning, you can schedule a 30-minute call here: https://calendly.com/lydiasierraconsulting/30min
All the best,
P.S. Stay tuned for our next blog on how we approach Monitoring & Evaluation!