Strategic planning has a reputation for being an exercise in futility. Too often the process is long and drawn out or the steps are ambiguous and frustrating. Even when the process does go well and a plan is created, a year or so down the road the plan is often found collecting dust on a shelf. So why do it? A strategic plan has many benefits and uses that are not always considered. Here is a brief list of some obvious and not-so-obvious benefits to investing in the process.
Benefits of the Process
- Planning sessions can serve to bring teams together. Participants who may not have regular interactions are brought together and can develop valuable relationships.
- Participants gain a global view of the organization that may not be readily available in everyday situations.
- The process offers participants the opportunity to put down their specific everyday work and think strategically about the organization as a whole.
- Through surveys and focus groups, stakeholders can express their opinions and “be heard.”
- Strategic planning teaches a structured approach to problem solving.
- Planning develops ownership in the organization and the resulting plan. Inviting key donors and/or influential community leaders may be used as a cultivation tool.
Benefits of the Completed Plan
- Strategic planning can be defined as the process of determining what an organization intends to be in the future and how to get there. As such, the plan serves as a map to lead the organization into the future. The board and staff can use this foundational document to make decisions and focus on what is truly important.
- A plan not only is a great tool for leading the organization, it can also be a great tool for fundraising! Sharing a well designed plan can help bring donors on board in a big way.
- Grantmakers also like to see strategic plans. It provides them an understanding of where the organization has been and where it is going.
- The document itself creates an important historical record for the organization, detailing what decisions were made as well as the context of that decision (the why).
- Strategic plans prevent mission drift. Thus current fads and donations incongruent with the mission do not sway the organization.
- A completed strategic plan provides a basis to measure success. Yogi Berra famously said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” Evaluation strategies within a strategic plan will help your organization hit the mark.
“Although strategic planning can provide all these benefits, there is no guarantee that it will” (Bryson, 2004). To achieve a strategic plan that will lead and inspire for years to come, provide a committed organization, a skilled facilitator, and ample time. Your results will be pleasing!
Plan collecting dust? Dickerson, Bakker & Associates help you develop a plan that will actually be implemented. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.