Having witnessed this lack of positive plans or programs created, far too often, during my over three decades of identifying, qualifying, developing, training and consulting, to over a thousand individuals in positions of leadership, as well as facilitated Board and organizational strategic planning sessions, I feel a simplified process, with checks and balances, and quality reviews, is a needed understanding. Here is a some step process to improve the results of strategic plans.
- Historic/heritage review and consideration: This must not be done as a one-plan-fits-all, but rather must be based on the specific heritage, mission, and vision of the specific group. Begin by understanding the history, and the perceptions of existing members. Understand why the group may, or may not be, considered as relevant, as it once was. Review opportunities taken, as well as missed, and clearly see the ramifications of each action. While great organizations evolve, they know who and why they are, and tweak, as necessary, but focus on their vital vision and mission.
- Objective analysis-strengths and weaknesses, and ramifications: Every group has both strengths, as well as weaknesses. Part of quality planning must commence with knowing where the group presently is, and how to best utilize the strongest areas, while addressing and improving upon areas of weakness. Whether action is taken, either timely or not, or even if it is avoided (procrastination, or burying one’s head in the sand), there are always significant ramifications.
- Vision; mission; needs; priorities; relevance; sustainability: Embrace the vision and mission, or tweak it, and evolve it! Focus on the direction the group needs to go in! Only when priorities are focused upon, will any group be considered relevant, and without relevance, no organization will sustain.
- Gather input – Stakeholders concerns, wants, needs, priorities, and expectations: Never assume you know what your stakeholders seek, nor that a small group’s views should shape the strategy! Proceed to do broad interviewing and discussions, using several methods, including mail, face-to-face, email, surveys, etc.
- Develop immediate, intermediate, and longer-term plans: Know and address current needs in a timely, comprehensive manner, because if you don’t fix what’s wrong now, it will affect the future adversely! However, avoid the myopic approach, and create a plan that carefully considers present, and future needs.
- Implement plan: The greatest plan, unless implemented, goes nowhere and achieves little positive momentum! Carefully go through the process, but proceed forward with an action plan, prepared with the ability to tweak, based on prepared-for contingencies.