Strategic Positioning

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By this point in the strategic planning process you’ve gathered information, examined the external and internal situation and confirmed your mission and vision.

Now, it’s time to look at some broad strategy questions.

Generally, it is a good idea to look at funding first, using the tool below to guide the discussion.


This can be as much a philosophical as a strategic question for a board:

• How are you funded today?
• How are other organizations like yours funded?
• How do you want to be positioned in five years?

There is no right or wrong answer – but different positions have varying opportunities and risks. As an example, most social service providers are at the far left of the continuum.
This discussion leads to questions around revenue (today and in five years), the reserve fund, what discretionary funds are required and diversity of funding sources.

The funding discussion sets the stage for and grounds strategy development. It can be iterative – often this discussion is revisited this as the strategy is developed.

The second critical positioning question is around sector:

• How are you positioned today in the system you operate in?
• Are you a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond?
• Are you a leader?
• Do funders look to you for solutions?
• Are you at all of the critical tables? Do you convene or lead those tables?

For some not for profits, this is about competitive positioning. The discussion is to agree where you are today and where you want to be in, say, five years. Depending on the organization, there may be some other large positioning questions.

These rich discussions set the stage for strategy development, which will be looked at in the next blog.

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