Strategic planning is used for one purpose only: to help an organization do a better job – to focus its energy, to ensure that members of the organization are working toward the same goals, and to assess and adjust the organization’s direction in response to a changing environment.
In short, strategic planning is a disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and why it does it, with a focus on the future. (Adapted from John M. Bryson, Strategic Planning in Public and Nonprofit Organizations)
Greystone Global does not believe in a one-size-fits-all strategic planning approach. We recommend that organizations first assess their current situation to determine the best strategic planning approach. The Strategic Planning Matrix provides a general overview of three approaches.
Agile Strategic Planning
This approach is especially for organizations who believe that change within their environment is much too rapid for long-term, detailed planning to be relevant. They believe that planning needs be done continuously. Stages of Agile Planning could include:
- Articulate the mission, and the vision, and values.
- Research the external environment and recommend a list of opportunities to pursue and threats that could prohibit the organization from achieving those opportunities.
- Present the lists to members of the organization for strategic thinking and discussions.
- Shortly after, assign a team to evaluate the internal workings of the organization in the context of pursuing the identified opportunities and mitigating threats. Then recommend the internal strengths to be leveraged and weaknesses to be addressed to effectively pursue those opportunities.
- Present these lists to members of the organization for strategic thinking and discussions, identifying priorities for the coming 6-12 months.
- Repeat steps 2-5 regularly, maybe every six months or year and document the results in a Strategic Plan.
Traditional Strategic Planning
Traditional Strategic Planning is best for organizations that have sufficient resources to pursue ambitious visions and goals, have external environments that are relatively stable, and do not have a large number of current challenges (internal and/or external) to address. The approach usually includes the following general stages:
- Develop or update the mission, vision, and values statements.
- Take a wide look around externally and a deep look internally, and perhaps update/modify the statements as a result.
- Following this assessment, select the multi-year strategies and/or goals to achieve the vision.
- Develop action plans that specify who is going to do what and by when to achieve each goal.
- Identify related capacity-building plans, for example, staffing, facilities, marketing, and financial plans.
- Organize items 1-3 into a Strategic Plan and items 4-5 into a separate one-year Operational Plan.
Challenge-Based Strategic Planning
This approach works best for organizations that have a number of current and major challenges to address. These challenges could be internal, external, or both. For these organizations focusing on an ambitious vision when internal health is at an all-time low and/or they need to respond to a significant external change, would be like trying to run a marathon without having done any training. Your likelihood of success would be extremely low. This approach might include the following stages:
- Identify 5-7 of the most critical challenges facing the organization, right now.
- Identify action plans to address each issue over the next 6-12 months.
- Include that information in a short-term Strategic Plan.
After a challenge-based plan has been implemented and the current, major challenges are resolved, then the organization might undertake the more ambitious traditional approach.
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You have delivered one of the best strategic plans we have ever had. ~Debbie Humphrey | Oak Park, IL
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