Strategic Planning: Introducing the 5 steps to effective strategic planning (1 of 8)

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Small to medium not for profits are operating in a changing environment and need to do effective strategic planning to be successful. But they have limited resources to dedicate to a strategic planning process. Too often, the ‘strategic plan’ is a wish list rather than a reflection of a series of strategic decisions. And too often I’ve seen clients that have been overwhelmed by an inappropriate strategic planning process.

I’ve been doing strategic planning with MAS (Management Advisory Service for a number of years. Working with organizations, I’ve adapted a fairly traditional approach to create a process that works for them. The process engages stakeholders, reviews critical information, and incorporates a series of strategic decisions.

The critical steps:
1. Situation review – What is the current situation, internally and externally?
2. Mission and vision revisit – Is the mission clear and relevant? Is there a shared, compelling vision?
3. Strategic positioning – How is your organization positioned today and how do you want to be positioned?
4. Strategy development – What must change?
5. Action plan – Not part of the strategic plan but if you don’t do it you’ve wasted your time on the strategic plan.

Keep in mind that there are as many ways of doing strategic planning as there are strategic planners. Many methodologies will work for you. But they should all address the steps above. In this series of posts, I’ll explain how I’ve adapted each of these steps for small to medium not for profit organizations.

MAS ( is a pro bono management consulting service working with not for profits in the GTA since 1993. MAS is a charity funded by donations from satisfied non-profit clients. Last year, our Volunteer Consultants completed over 200 projects for Toronto nonprofits.

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