Our Time-Tested Guidelines for Strategic Planning
- Develop a plan– involve your stakeholders in identifying your future direction and critical success factors. You might do this through phone surveys, focus groups and meetings with your board.
- State your commitment– make it clear that you are committed to this process and offer opportunities for the appropriate stakeholders to become involved and share their passion for your success.
- Develop broad goals– these are statements of desired direction – key areas in which you want to experience performance and change. They need not be measurable but should lend themselves easily to objective setting. Goals rarely change and may succeed from one planning era to the next
- Develop specific, measurable objectives– these are action statements that tell the reader what you want to achieve. They should meet the SMART criteria:
- Specific – they are tangible outcomes and real activities, for example: To increase the number of first time donors who become repeat donors by 50% by 2010.
- Measurable or Monitorable – can we tell if it has been accomplished?
- Achievable – can we really do it?
- Realistic – should we really do it?
- Time-bound – when could we either expect to see some results or finally measure the result?
- Tie to performance measurement– be aware of what you are actually measuring. There are 3 types of common measures found in strategic plans:
- Output/Activities measures: monitor the tactics or activities that you undertake. For example – if our objective is to “Develop a PR plan for increasing the visibility of our organization in the local community”, the activity measure might be – “the PR plan is developed and approved by the Board”. This means this activity was completed.
- Quality measures: monitor the short term, easily applicable, positive indicators –timeliness, accessibility, responsiveness, etc. Example: If our objective is to “Increase the number of Leaders and Leadership opportunities in our organization,” a quality performance measure might be – 50% of all leadership positions are filled by new or first time leaders by 2010.
- Outcome/Impact measures: monitor the big picture results and are usually longer-term in their impact. For example, if we want an impact measure for the effectiveness of our leadership program, we might suggest: “a 2011 survey of committee members indicates an above average satisfaction with the quality of leadership in all committees” as a potential measure.
Most plans have a combination of measures and sometimes the measures need to change during the life of the plan due to new information.
- Keep the plan alive– hold regular meetings in which the plan is the key topic of discussion. Once an objective is met, set a new one.
- Monitor, measure and motivate! Update and review the plan at least quarterly. Encourage the use of the plan in all areas of ‘business’. This plan has impacts for all of our committees and leadership groups. Make sure that it is seen as important, influential and positive.