“Success doesn’t just happen. It’s planned for.” While this anonymous quote has no owner, the success or failure of an event, business or association does have one – or perhaps many. Strategic planning looks at the future rather than only the now.
Over the last decade, the process of strategic planning has changed considerably. Fewer executives and committees pour over hundreds or thousands of pages in a document labeled “Strategic Plan.” The paperwork alone is exhausting, and in today’s fast-paced business environment, it’s not reasonable to expect the time or resources to devote to such a document.
You’ve likely heard the adage “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” A strategic plan is your roadmap and shows staff where to focus their time and resources. With a regularly scheduled tune-up, it can also keep an association from overcommitting or moving outside the scope of the roadmap.
It’s not necessary for today’s strategic plans to be a lengthy work of business jargon. With some planning, your document may only be a few pages in length. The process can start with a pre-planning meeting. Discuss the association’s goals and how they correlate with the mission statement. Develop an agenda for a planning retreat and set clear guidelines, objectives and expectations for the retreat and the attending staff.
Don’t combine your planning retreat with other meetings. You’ll water down the experience and will likely leave with ideas floating around rather than a plan on paper. Schedule two to three days for intensive brainstorming and development. At your planning retreat, in addition to developing new ideas, set a time for discussing current programs to determine what’s working or what should be dropped.
Schedule time for team activities. While we have a tendency to remove the fluff from a retreat and just focus on hard-hitting topics, it’ll do your team well to decompress and inspire tactical thinking.
After your strategic plan has been developed and approved, relay it to all committees and executives so everyone is working from the same roadmap. The plan will help track progress – and without it, you may spend time on unnecessary efforts.
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