Saturday, January 29, 2005

Finding your way in the information maze

Gathering and analyzing information is a critical ingredient in strategic thinking and planning. The Web is a powerful information gathering tool. But it’s good news/bad news. The good news: the wealth of information available; The bad news: too much information! Every once in a while I come across a site that does an amazing job of bringing order out of the chaos. I found one such website today. It’s called Emerald Management Reviews. It provides access to electronic management journals, databases, discussion forums and other online resources. Everything is rated on a five-star scale. Check it out:

Friday, January 28, 2005

What I believe about strategic planning …

I believe that the primary purpose of strategic planning is to provide leaders with the opportunity to collectively determine the future direction of their organization and then develop plans to immediately and rapidly begin to move in that direction. To be successful, the process of planning must be made to work for people in the organization -- not the other way around. While I believe that there are some basic principles of strategic planning that must be followed, I also know that there must be flexibility in designing the actual planning timetable so that the organization in question achieves its hoped-for outcomes.

I am also convinced that many strategic planning efforts falter for at least three reasons: First, the failure to involve enough people in the process with the consequence that commitment to the strategic plan is weak. It is critical that representatives of all key constituencies be involved in the planning process in a meaningful way. "Real commitment" to a shared vision for the future only results from "real participation."

The second problem is the failure to translate the strategic plan into concrete action plans on an annual basis. Mention the words "strategic planning" in a large room and you can be sure that you'll hear a groan from some people. All too often, countless meetings, during which people invest considerable time and energy in the development of missions, visions, goals and strategies, never lead to development of concrete, measurable plans of action with clear accountability for results. Is it any wonder that people lack enthusiasm for strategic planning?

Related to this is the third reason for failure: resistance to the planning process because of past disappointments with similar efforts. In order to be successful, future planning efforts must somehow provide reasonable assurances that the time and energy people invest in the process result in changes and improvements that are implemented and supported by leadership.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The difference between strategic planning and business planning

So what’s the difference between strategic planning and business planning? There seems to be some confusion and/or disagreement about the answer. I see the two processes as related but very distinct. Here are three articles that shed some light on the subject. The first article is “Business Planning and Strategic Planning Revisited” by Herb Rubenstein of Growth Strategies, Inc., a leadership and management consulting firm. Go to:!hrrrevisited.html. The second article is “Strategic Planning: Some Lessons Learned about What Does and Doesn't Work” by Paul Connolly of the TCC Group (formerly The Conservation Company). Go to: The third article is “Business Planning for Nonprofits: Why, When — and How It Compares to Strategic Planning” by Brigette Rouson of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management. Go to:

What do you think? How do you approach this question?

The launch

I've been thinking about launching this blog for awhile. So here's the inaugural post. I see the Strategic Thinking and Planning Blog as an opportunity to share what I've learned about strategic planning. I've been assisting nonprofit organizations in this critical process for a number of years. I see strategic planning as closely linked to a number of other important activities: board development, building learning organizations, and forging alliances and collaborations in particular. I also see this blog as an opportunity to learn from others like yourself. Let's give it a go.