Now that the board has set the organizational direction (The Strategic Planning Retreat), the Executive Director and consultant will need to work to develop a plan of action. In other words, they will take the direction set by the board and make it operational. The steps involved in this part of the planning process include:
- Using the strategic issues agreed upon during the retreat, develop strategic goals and then the strategies (or objectives) that will help you to reach them.
Since this is operational or tactical planning, it will be important to assign someone to be responsible for the objective and a time frame in which it will be completed. Be careful not to have all completion dates at the same time. Since the strategic plan should guide the work of the organization over the next three years, prioritize the goals and develop objectives accordingly. Quite often, goals are inter-related and as such create their own priority order.
As goals are established, use the acronym SMART to ensure your goals are meaningful.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic or Relevant
T – Time oriented
Once each goal is written in SMART format, it is time to develop the strategies that will be used to accomplish these goals. In many cases, the strategies will not be new to the organization, but will be an enhancement or continuation of the work being done. When developing strategies, ask “how will this strategy or activity move us closer to our goal?”
It is important to note that some strategies will be organization-wide strategies. For instance, a goal of improving public perceptions of the organization may include strategies for the entire organization. Other strategies may also be relevant for a specific program or service.
Strategies may also be long-term (over the course of the entire plan) or they may be short-term in nature. For instance, an organization may use one strategy to get them to a certain point but then use another strategy to take the organization to the next level.
After strategies have been developed, it is necessary to assign or allocate financial resources to them. Because a strategic goal has been set, there is an assumption that it is important to moving the organization forward; thus financial resources must follow. Again, the financial resources can be broken down annually if the strategy will encompass one or more years.
With the written plan developed, it will need to be presented to the board of directors for approval and to ensure that their buy-in and support exist. Remember, setting strategic direction is a functions of the board for which they must be responsible.
Remember once it is approved by the board, it must be used and not placed on the proverbial shelf until the next time the organization talks about strategic planning. The strategic plan should guide every decision made by the board of directions – whether to continue or discontinue programs/services, whether or not to expand them, and where money needs to be spent.
To ensure it is used, I encourage our clients to develop a one page action plan that summarizes the key strategies of the plan and include it in the board packet for each board meeting. Doing so means that the strategic goals are front and center every meeting and can be easily referred to.
Does your organization need help with its planning process? Contact us today, we can help,