Hope you are staying safe and sane in these interesting times.
We haven’t quoted a children’s story yet, but Lewis Carroll’s words from Alice in Wonderland are perfect for the topic of Strategic Planning.
“Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”
The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”
In the story, the grinning Cheshire Cat was great at both hovering over events and reappearing at will. That’s kind of how it feels to be a without a strategic plan. The absence of a strategic plan hovers over your thinking—a persistent, recurring reminder that your path ahead is uncharted and unmapped.
Given the tumult of our world since mid-March 2020, the idea of planning for the future can seem as farcical as Alice in Wonderland. But we are not yet through the looking glass. As unmoored as we might feel, we have learned so much, innovated so often, and juggled so consistently in the past ten months that we should feel empowered to plan for even an uncertain future.
Today’s dynamic environment provides the opportunity to think differently, grants the permission to try new things, and mandates that we reimagine our work.
Beyond the benefits to running your business, developing a strategic plan is an excellent way to engage your frontline staff, your executive leadership, your board of directors, and your customers. Asking for internal staff and management input is a powerful endorsement of the value you place on the contributions of your team. And, these groups want to be asked. According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, 76% of employees expect the opportunity to shape the future of society and want to be included in that planning. While COVID-era board meetings look different, facilitating your directors through the strategic planning process via Zoom is possible and managing the effort by establishing staff-board groups for each strategic imperative is a great way to build your activation teams.
Given the environment, your teams have likely reimagined the customer, donor or service recipient experience. The strategic planning process offers another opportunity to add the voice of your donor, customer or service recipient to your thinking. Surveys, Facebook Groups, and good, old-fashioned phone calls are great ways to ask the questions that only they can answer as you chart your path.
While anytime is a good time to create or update a strategic plan, we usually recommend that a strategic plan be updated at an interval set by your CEO and Board of Directors (every three years, etc.) or when your organization is experiencing a catalyst such as the hiring of a new CEO/ED or an approaching milestone such as a 100th anniversary. The global pandemic, political turmoil and social change we are all facing now may make a new strategic plan imperative for you and your organization.
By it’s very nature, strategic planning is all about prioritization. We only have so much time, so many resources, and so much expertise. When the process is complete, your team will have a roadmap, a filter for your decisions, a tool to measure your progress, and the permission to say “no” to distractions.
Does your organization or favorite nonprofit need help engaging their board, employees, and customers or in charting their strategic direction for 2021 and beyond? We can help.
Let’s talk and hatch a plan together.