At this point in the strategic planning process you have looked at the internal and external situation, identified key trends that will impact your organization and your clients, confirmed your mission and vision and developed a consensus about how you want to be positioned in the future.
The next step is to ask yourself – “So, what needs to change?” Generally, a three year timeframe for strategic plans is suitable – it is long enough to think creatively about how things could be different but not so long that people un-tether from reality.
A good start to strategy development is to review the work to date and then ask your team – “What must be different in three years?”
A brainstorming methodology developed by ICA is very useful here. First, each person makes notes of what they think needs to change. Then, these thoughts are written on the wall on large sticky notes. The team groups the ideas; there are generally five or six basic areas of change, each of which is then named. For example, if there is a group about programs what are the cards saying – grow programs, change programs, maintain and enhance? Is there a particular focus?
These five or six categories (each with a verb – for example, expand and grow our programs) are the strategic areas where the organization will invest time, talent, energy and resources in order to achieve the mission. These are then worded as statements of strategic intent.
If you are a program and service provider your first strategy is programs and services. You must also have a funding strategy – how will you fund your activities? Other common strategies are around community engagement and infrastructure (technology, premises, people).
Very often there are differing ideas or too many ideas to actually execute. The tool below focuses a discussion about strategic choice; each idea is positioned on the grid where they will have differing degrees of impact and ‘doability’ (are the necessary funding, skills etc available?). Your strategic choices should focus on the most doable ideas that have the greatest impact.
Remember – strategic planning is about making choices, not lists.
The subsequent post will look at the next stage in developing your strategy.
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