WHY you must:
First, why go through strategic planning? Why should you integrate in as a process within your organization? In addition to the references identified at the end of the post that I use throughout the post, Wilkinson (2011) in "Why You Need a Plan: 5 Good Reasons" offers some key reasons:
- To understand your core mission
- To identify your vision to carry out the mission
- To get everyone in the know and on board with the mission and vision
- To identify what stands in the organization's way of achieving the mission and vision
- To identify what will help the organization achieve the mission and vision
- To create a plan for action moving forward to carry out the mission and vision
- To determine how to know if the organization is fulfilling its mission and vision
HOW to go about doing it:
To summarize, strategic planning allows your organization to conceptualize:
- Your mission
- Your long-range vision
- Your internal and external environment via identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (aka SWOTs)
- Your strategies for these issues
- Your plans to address these
- Your means to evaluate how your actions fit with what your organization identified
The process includes doing different methods to generate ideas about each step and come to a consensus about each before going on to the next item. Moreover, this process that I just laid out should be thought of as a cycle. The process should continue over time (as your organization and the environment around it changes), and the previous process should help build to the next cycle.
I seen to be making bold claims about what strategic planning can do for your organization, but I want to add a caveat. How you conduct and integrate the strategic planning process and make it into a cycle will greatly affect the process's effectiveness.
Some keys to making this process work:
- Engage all key stakeholders in the process.
- Create buy-in at all levels in the process
- Allow enough time to go through the process
- Integrate this process and its into the other activities of the organization. Continue to go through the strategic planning process periodically.
In sum, strategic planning takes time and energy, but the process is vital for nonprofit organizations to works towards achieving their dreams.
Some good resources on strategic planning (that were also used throughout this post):
- United Way of Dane County. No date. “Strategic Planning Process.”
- Renz, David O, ed. 2010. The Jossey-Bass Handbook of Nonprofit Leadership and Management. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
- (Especially: Bryson, John M. 2010. "Strategic planning and the strategy change cycle." The Jossey-Bass Handbook of Nonprofit Leadership and Management. Ed. David Renz. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 230-261.)