It’s that time of year again. Time to renew that strategic plan. After all, it has been 5 years, right? The strategic plan has become somewhat the pain in the (let’s say ‘neck’) that a financial audit is. We moan at the idea of getting our boards together to work on strategy, and we ask ourselves again if we actually know what ‘strategy’ is.
Let’s see, where do we start? Oh yeah! A mission statement! Let’s get that bad boy out and see if we can make it read even better! And then let’s debate over whether it’s a mission statement or a vision statement, or if it matters.
What’s next? Oh yeah! Values! We need to update our bullet list of values. We can’t believe we missed ‘integrity’ last time around.
Next up…. ah yes … a SWOT Analysis. Time to draw that quadrant and kid ourselves about our strengths, while we focus instead on our huge list of weaknesses, and argue over whether something is internal or external.
Hey! It’s break time! We might actually get this plan built (you know — the entire future direction of our organization and a map to get there) in a half-day retreat!
Been through a few of these? Can you tell I have? Honestly, how many of these have worked well for your organization?
JPG has a different approach. First, plan on months — not hours — to go through this process. Your board cannot possibly grapple with the tough issues and deal with risk appetite, innovation, competition, capacity, resources, governance, alignment, product, and business model over a bowl of fruit and some bottled water.
We walk boards and staff through the important questions. Here are 10 good ones:
- Start with WHY. Clarify and affirm the core purpose (mission) of the organization. But don’t do it under the agenda item of ‘Craft Mission Statement.’ Then it’s just wordsmithing. Instead, have a real honest, raw conversation about why your organization needs to thrive, and what the whole show is even about.
- Think ahead. How has the world changed in the last 5-10-25 years? Are you still relevant? Even more so?
- How will you seize this opportunity of pause to get creative about how you can better serve your stakeholders?
- What will you need to do differently from today onward, if you are to be relevant 10 years from now?
- Do you currently have the right tools (capacity) for doing those things? Is your talent still the right talent (on the staff AND the board)?
- Is your brand doing what you think it’s doing (like building public trust in your organization)? Do you have a measurement for it?
- Is your current business model aligned with your vision of the future? Or are you just thinking you can make tweaks to the way you are already doing things?
- Is everyone clear on their role? Does the board think that when this is all over they can go back to approving minutes? Does the CEO understand his/her role in driving change, shaping culture, and aligning capacity with mission?
- Do you have clarity on the differences between a customer and a beneficiary of your organization? Many organizations get these two confused, and it stymies their appetites for innovation. Can you imagine why?
- Do we understand and embrace the level of stakeholder engagement it will take to accomplish growth? Dare we discuss the kind of conflict of interest that arises when board members are serving on 3 other nonprofit boards?