If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it hundreds of times . . . non-profit board volunteers and staff hate strategic planning. Why? The reasons are all over the place, but some of the more popular reasons given are:
- there is no time to go through such a time intensive process
- the world around us is too chaotic and constantly changing to invest time in planning
- it will just go on the shelf and collect dust
When I hear things like this, I can’t help but hear my third grade niece in the back of my head saying, “Really? Seriously?”
It boggles the imagination to think that very smart people cannot figure out why their strategic planning efforts typically end up on the shelf collecting dust. Usually, when I ask people to speculate about why this happens, they often can’t come up with a good reason and just chalk it up to their belief that planning doesn’t work.
Well, here is a hint:
Take a good, hard look in the mirror and you’ll find your answer.
Too many of us treat the planning process as an end, but in reality it should be treated as the beginning.
The following is a list of mistakes that contribute to ineffective strategic planning efforts:
- not aligning your agency budget with your strategic plan
- not creating committee work plans (or committee charters) with the plan
- not linking the executive director’s annual performance plan with the strategic plan
- neglecting to develop tools such as dashboards and scorecards to monitor implementation
- not aligning your other organizational plans with the strategic plan (e.g. board development plan, resource development plan, marketing plan, program plan, etc)
- not including discussions about parts of your strategic plan on the board meeting agenda
- neglecting to engage key donors in a conversation about implementation of your plan
So, what is the solution? Quite simply . . . start aligning your strategic plan with everything you can (e.g. budget, performance plans, committee work plans, agendas, etc).
If you are looking for a few external resources on this subject, you may want to check out the following:
- The Bridgespan Group: “Living Into Your Strategic Plan: A Guide To Implementation That Gets Results“
- Dennis Miller, author: “The Power of Strategic Alignment: A Guide to Energizing Leadership & Maximizing Potential in Today’s Non-Profit Organizations“
- LinkedIn group: “Strategic Planning for Nonprofits“
What has been your experience with strategic planning? Is there anything you’ve done that helped your agency maximize its implementation efforts? Please share your thoughts and experiences using the comment box below.
Here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC