Where are you going as an organization? What are your values? How do you intend to get where you are going? How do you stay focused on keeping the “main thing” the “main thing”? How do you define and measure success? How do you align your staff, volunteers, and stakeholders in pursuit of the same vision for your organization?
These questions and many others are fundamental questions that your organization must wrestle with, address, and develop actionable answers and plans for if you are going to be successful at accomplishing your given vision.
Strategic planning is an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organization’s direction in response to a changing environment. It is a disciplined effort that produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, who it serves, what it does, and why it does it, with a focus on the future. Effective strategic planning articulates not only where an organization is going and the actions needed to make progress, but also how it will know if it is successful.
The Essential Six
Good strategic planning at any level requires excellence in the facilitation of a healthy strategic planning process. Essential to healthy strategic planning is an unbiased facilitator who can accomplish six basic goals:
- Help identify voices and stakeholders to include in the strategic planning process.
- Walk the entire strategic planning team through the various stages of the strategic planning process.
- Facilitate 360 degree conversation through asking unbiased, yet pointed, questions so as to produce truly holistic plan.
- Focus the efforts of the strategic planning team, eliminating distraction or peripheral non-essential elements in discussion.
- Gather and condense information and findings from sessions, discussions, and all communications.
- Produce a written formalized actionable strategic plan for submission, review, and approval by strategic planning team and organization.