STRATEGIC PLANNING: Starting the Process

Q:  I want to make sure I’m approaching my Strategic Plan the right way.  How should I start?
A:  Start with talking to your people.  You’ll get some very important information to achieve success.

One of the very effective organizations I work with asked me to look over their Strategic Plan.  I asked them how they created it.  They said that every year their Board came up with what had to be done and the staff then figured out how to do it.  I asked the director if the team ever struggled with making the initiates happen.  She said that sometimes they did, but she always tried to interpret what the Board wanted for the team.

I recommended that we do that particular year’s Strategic Plan differently.  First, I wanted to do a brainstorming session with the team members and let them decide what great things should happen in the organization for the upcoming year.  I worked with the team to come up with the top initiatives, how we were going to accomplish, who was responsible for each goal, and what the deadline would be for each item.  Meanwhile, we met with the Board and asked them to come with a very basic list of one liners that they thought were important for the next year.

The team members then presented their plan to the Board (which could also have been done by their director).  The Board was amazed.  They loved what the team members came up with.  There were things that the Board had never considered.

It’s always better to have the people who are close to what is done day to day come up with what they think is best for the organization.  They are the ones who interact with clients and donors regularly, so why not let them come up with what should be done that next year?  Then they feel like it’s THEIR plan and not the Board’s.  By the way, any initiatives the Board wanted to see that were not on the team member’s list were added (if all agreed that it was important to do for the Plan.)


Start the year out right by generating great ideas for your Strategic Plan.

  1. Look at the positives and negatives of the way you presently do your Strategic Plan
  2. Consider bringing your team into the process so that they feel some ownership in it
  3. If you have a Board or a leadership team who normally creates the plan, let them know what you are doing and encourage them to come up with their basic list of what they would like to see.  Let them know their job will be much easier this year, since the work will be done mostly by the team.

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The Executive Coaching Experience
by Daniel P. Chiodo
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