In a previous post (April 28, 2006 - Elements of Effective Strategic Planning Practice), I described some of the ingredients and qualities of effective strategic planning practice. I just concluded a strategic planning project with a nonprofit that emphasized for me the importance of these factors. They did it right and they now have a strategic plan that inspires them and will challenge them. Most importantly board and staff leadership as well as key community partners are really committed to the plan– which, of course, is the point.
How did this happen? Not by magic (well maybe a little). They did a number of things to lay the groundwork for a successful planning process. First the board established a strategic planning committee. It was led by a talented board leader who is in line to become president of the board in the near future. The planning committee also included a number of board and staff leadership including the executive director and the current board president.
The planning committee took the time to thoroughly orient itself to strategic planning and then agreed on clear outcomes for the process. They also created many opportunities for other board, staff, customers, volunteers, and other community stakeholders to be involved in the strategic planning and thinking process in meaningful ways.
They set aside time outside of the formal planning sessions to talk informally about the emerging critical issues. A number of important insights arose as a result. (Previous post: April 5, 2006 - Strategic Thinking Starts Wednesday at 8:30 AM)
They also made sure that the strategic framework – mission, vision, goals and strategies – was translated into a concrete implementation plan with defined measures of success. In addition, the board aligned its committee structure with the new strategic plan.
All of this in about five month’s time. They did it right and it worked!