After several conversations with small nonprofits around the topic of organizational effectiveness, I felt compelled to write about strategic planning for two reasons: first, I’m surprised at how many organizations do not have a strategic plan, and second, of those who do have a plan, when asked about it, readily admit it has not been reviewed for years.
A strategic plan helps the organization set strategic, vision and mission-centered goals and create a road map for effective operations and growth. In a nonprofit, the Board has the responsibility of creating the overarching goals for the organization. The Executive Director, along with the organization’s key staff, is tasked with operationalizing the plan: the conversion of strategic goals into execution, which includes: 1) creating objectives that support the goals, 2) defining outcomes, 3) defining action steps and 4) developing a budget.
There are several approaches to, and models for, strategic planning. I like to use a hybrid version that incorporates the Drucker model, which asks the following questions:
The hybrid part involves the addition of conducting PESTEL (macro environmental factors), Operations (internal factors) and SWOT analyses.
PESTEL is an acronym that stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal (it can also be referred to as an environmental scan). The analysis asks organizations to consider and explore what is occurring in these environments that could potentially affect their operations.
An operational analysis looks at the following internal factors: Structure, Systems, Programs, Processes, Finances/Budget and People (staff, volunteers and Board). Organizations are asked to consider these factors and how they currently and potentially could affect operations.
The SWOT analysis, which defines and summarizes the organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats helps synthesize the PESTEL and Operational analyses. Taking the information derived from answering the first four Drucker questions and the resulting SWOT analysis, you define priorities, create goals, objectives, outcomes and action steps.
The answer to the final question in the Drucker model, “what is our plan?” encompasses a restatement of vision and mission, and the goals, objectives, outcomes and action steps (tasks, timelines and teams) that will bring the vision to reality. The written Strategic Plan is the end result.
Once the Strategic Plan is finalized, the budgeting process should be undertaken to make sure the Plan can be implemented as presented. With Board approval of the budget and strategic plan, implementation can begin. The outcomes and action steps (tasks, timelines and teams) guide implementation.
The final steps in the process are to report outcome progress periodically and reassess objectives and action steps as extenuating external and internal factors dictate.
Having and implementing a strategic plan is vitally important to reach optimum operational effectiveness for your organization. Without a plan and clear mission-centered goals, fulfilling your vision may not become a reality!
Bacon Lee and Associates offers Strategic Planning workshops tailored to your organization’s needs. Please call us for more information.
Visti Bacon Lee at www.baconlee.com.