The board is responsible for developing a strategic plan for the organisation. The strategic planning process enables those involved in the organisation such as board members, staff, volunteers, members, other stakeholders, to think through and document what it is doing, for whom and why it is doing it.
The aim is to help your organisation do a better job. It is also important for public accountability – if you want the public to support you with money or for your organisation to be relevant to your community of interest (the people/groups you want to help) you need to show why you are a safe bet.
Some useful questions to ask when strategic planning or reviewing your existing plan.
- What is our purpose, our reason for being? (What is our Big Idea?)
- If this organisation did not already exist why would we create it?
- Have we fulfilled our purpose – is it time for us to close the doors? Has the world moved on?
- Who are we doing this for? Who should benefit? What difference or outcome will we make?
- What is the essence, ethos or spirit of this organisation?
- What is important to us?
- Where do we want to get to?
- What do we want to become?
Spending time asking these types of questions will also help you find out the perspectives of those involved which will be very useful. It is also good to do this around the board table from time to time.
By clarifying what your organisation’s ‘end’ goal is; or what you really want to achieve, the board will move away from ad hoc, short term decision-making into a higher level, more strategic and planned approach.
Without the benefit of such planning, decision-making by boards is often personally driven by individual members’ experience and knowledge, or relies too much on the manager’s operational perspective because ‘they are at the coalface, have looked into this and must know what’s best to do.’
Another benefit of strategic planning is your CEO/Manager will have a clear plan to put into action, rather than having to guess what the board will want or wait for board approval before they can act.
Doing the Strategic Plan
There is no perfect formula but most organisations typically work through the following set of activities.
Creating the Strategic Plan
There is no perfect formula but most organisations typically work through the following set of activities:
- Environmental Scan or situational analysis
- Plotting direction
- Action Planning
Plotting Direction – Your Vision and Mission and Goals
Following the environmental scan, you will need to decide how to respond to the issues and opportunities you have identified. There will be some strategic choices you can make.
The direction includes a vision and a mission statement that typically contains the basic guiding principles for board and staff.
You vision refers to the future, what you want to become or achieve.
Your mission is about today, what you are doing.
For example the [fictional] HuffPuff Swimming Organisation’s vision is ‘all children will be safe in the water. Its mission is “to reduce childhood deaths from drowning by providing free swimming and water confidence lessons to all children under ten in the Western Bay of Plenty, taught by qualified swim instructors.”
Examples of Vision and Mission statements
Vision: Hearts fit for Life
Mission: to stop all people in New Zealand dying prematurely from heart disease and enable people with heart disease to life full lives.
Vision We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.
Mission: Spread ideas.
Plotting direction includes setting goals (which could also be called objectives or outcome statements). They should be SMARTER – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound, Evaluated and Reviewed.
This Community Net link below provides a breakdown of strategic planning steps and some tools to use
It also includes some examples of community organisations’ strategic plans to visit:
- Foundation North – http://www.foundationnorth.org.nz/
- Volunteering New Zealand – Strategic Plan 2019-2022
- Heart Foundation – http://www.heartfoundation.org.nz/our-work/about-us/strategic-plan
Environmental scan or situational analysis
This activity looks at and analyses your organisation’s current relationship to the broader social, political and economic environment. For example, there may be a more urgent issue to focus on, a shift in demographics, a new organisation on the scene, a change in government policy.
Here are some tools that will help you through the process.
You can then look at how your organisation is placed to meet the challenges identified in the environmental scan. Using a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis for your organisation is one way of doing this.
This third step includes identifying specific activities to achieve the goals or objectives, the monitoring/evaluating of progress and results and setting budget.
These can then be built into an operational plan. They should be flexible enough to respond to new developments.