Strategic planning should be an energizing experience for your organization. You are setting the path that you will move down over the next 3 to 5 years but many times the process can feel overwhelming and never ending. If not managed correctly, it can drag down your staff and volunteers and it can have the opposite impact of what you want to accomplish.
To get the most out of the strategic planning process and position themselves to develop a truly mission-guiding plan, it is important that organizations do the right prep work.
Step 1: Setting the Context for Planning
First, think of the parameters under which your organization will be undertaking the strategic plan and begin to identify what success will look like, specific issues you will need to address during planning, and any non-negotiables that need to be identified up front. Some other questions to consider include:
- Is this the appropriate time for the organization to initiate a planning process?
- Will we be able to engage the right constituents over the right amount of time?
- If no, where do we go from here?
- What lessons can we learn from our previous experience with strategic planning?
Step 2: Design the Process
You should also take the time to research and design a strategic planning process that fits your organizational needs. Consider some of the choices to be made when designing a strategic planning process:
- Who makes what decisions and what degree of input is sought from the board and the staff?
- Should we involve external stakeholders?
- Should we use an existing committee or a strategic planning committee and who should be on that committee?
- How should we sequence discussions – with data collection first and then have a retreat? Or, kick off the planning process with a board/staff retreat?
- Should we use a consultant and if so will we use a consultant and what are our expectations?
Step 3: Develop a Resource Gathering Plan
Next, identify how to gather information from both internal and external stakeholders to utilize in the planning process.
- What external and internal information is needed to inform the planning process?
- What resources already exist and which will we need to develop?
- Are there gaps in data that must be researched?
- Should we bring in a panel of topic experts to address our planning team?
Take time before the official process starts and start answering these key questions. This extra preparation time can keep the overall process moving forward on schedule and at a high energy level.
Stay tuned, as next month I plan to expand on the strategic planning topic and discuss key elements of a plan and share JGA’s best practices for strategic planning.