A strategic plan serves as a roadmap to enable an organization to set priorities and measure progress. It informs the direction of the organization, generates heightened engagement and ownership of the mission, and inspires staff, Board, volunteers, and the community to envision bold possibilities. While the final plan document may take a variety of forms, I have found that there are three keys at the outset to chart an effective strategic planning course:
Starting with the "why" enables an organization to understand the context and environment in which the planning will occur. Has a previous plan term expired? Is the organization preparing for an expansion? Is there an internal or external challenge confronting the organization?
Any planning process is only as effective as the leaders who will embrace and own it. Who will you include in the planning? Who will "own" the planning effort? How will you capture the critical perspectives of internal and external stakeholders? Who will facilitate the process?
In order to respond quickly to new opportunities and flexibly adapt to changing circumstances, many leaders (myself included) now favor shorter strategic framework processes over formal long-term strategic plans. In consultation with their facilitator, nonprofit leaders should evaluate the planning processes that have worked well with their team in the past and the type of process needed to confront the challenges of today.
Against a backdrop of countless challenges for nonprofit leaders and Board members, strategic planning can sometimes seem like a daunting undertaking. However, if you begin with the 3 P's of Purpose, People, and Process, you can set your organization on a path towards a successful outcome. If you or your team are ready to think about strategy, let's connect!
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