The Time to Create a Strategic Plan? Now!
Day-to-day tasks, emergencies and plodding bureaucracy often get in the way of long-term planning and organizational success. For nonprofits, associations, government agencies and trade groups, paying attention to the vision sometimes seems more of a luxury than a necessity.
Strategic planning is a process that allows organizations to establish a series of outcomes they hope to achieve over a given period of time. Several establish a three-to-five year plan, while others ambitiously draft a 10-year plan as a guide for growth. Most choose to bring in an independent third party to facilitate and guide the process, often conducting interviews with staff, customers, members and other stakeholders to provide perceptions about the institution.
Development of a strategic plan provides leadership and staff the ability to monitor progress and determine if organizational adjustments need to be made to achieve stated goals. New technologies, social shifts and other causes may cause a shift in goals. A good strategic plan allows for flexibility to adjust.
We’ve noticed an increase in the desire to create strategic plans among government institutions, as well as nonprofits that need a plan that incorporates fundraising and message development. Here's just a sampling of recent online articles highlighting strategic plans in various stages of development around the country: Penn State (PA), Appalachian Trail Conservancy (TN), City of Dixon (IL), West Milford Board of Education (NJ), Carnegie Mellon (PA), Muskogee (OK), Rochester Institute of Technology (NY), Big Horn County (WY), Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority (NV), Fort Smith (AR), Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (TX), Cleveland State Community College (TN), and Gulf Shores (AL).
The value of a strategic plan is to make sure those day-to-day assignments and emergencies are actual items you and your staff need to be doing. A plan helps make you accountable to your stakeholders and assures them you have given great thought on your organization’s direction and purpose.
2020 is shaping up as a milestone year that many organizations will want to target as accomplishing some big-picture goals. The time to start that process is now.