“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” - Ferris Bueller
Fall is a good time, as we approach year-end, for organizations to think about their long-term and short-term planning.
Whether you’re developing your three-year strategic plan or putting those strategies into place for the coming year, here are some insights from PCI’s transformation team for tackling a strategic planning process that will bring clarity, priorities and success.
Strategic Planning Insights
Involve outside counsel. You can’t be a prophet in your own land, and yet nobody knows your business better than you. Your inside, in-depth knowledge teamed with outside perspective and facilitation can bring out your organization’s best thinking.
Avoid cookie cutters. Too many plans are poorly crafted or generic so they sit on a shelf and collect dust instead of being put to work. Your association and its needs are unique; your process and plan should be as well.
Embrace inclusion and diversity. Have a steering team comprising senior leaders, rising stars, multi-generations and diverse thinkers. Choose at least one person you know will challenge and push the group. Find multiple pathways to maximize participation—focus groups, surveys and stakeholder interviews.
Don’t talk amongst yourselves. Look at the competition, talk to members, hear from front-line employees. Consider external and internal perspectives and treat them as equals.
Allow time for planning—but not too much. Plan and go! Three years flies by quickly and in today’s environment, five to seven years is too far out to see.
Planning is an art and a science. Don’t dive down every rabbit hole or fall into analysis paralysis, but don’t under think either. Involving the right number of voices, ideas and approaches without getting bogged down or overwhelmed can be a delicate balancing act.
Keep it simple. (Enough said.)
Connect the dots between strategic priorities and annual plans. The strategic plan should be your roadmap for building annual plans for the years ahead. If you don’t put your strategic plan into action and focus on it in daily life, you’ll never get where you want to go. Think both big picture and bite-sized chunks.
Be your plan’s chief cheerleader. It’s okay to be a broken record. Talk the plan, workshop it, evaluate and report progress against it. Share big and small wins. Share losses, and how you will course correct. Be flexible and recognize when you need to shift slightly or do an about face. Own mistakes, apologize and move on.
Voila, three-years. Time to start over. Avoid this trap. A well-constructed strategic plan is not an employee slogan or a marketing campaign to be dumped on a whim. It’s a living, breathing roadmap that allows for evolution into the next planning phase. You’ll know you’re on the right path to a good plan when you can see the horizon ahead.