Every organization should have a strategic plan. But getting off on the right foot will set you up for success later. Here are some questions to consider, from the perspective of someone who's been immersed in many strategic plans through the years--each tip preceded by a Star Wars quote (all from the first trilogy, of course).
1. "These are not the droids you are looking for." Is strategic planning actually what you need? A strategic plan will not be a panacea for low revenue, poor morale or a hostile political environment. It can help with those things, but it will not be the only solution.
2. "It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs!" Is this the right time to start a strategic plan? Leadership and other staff transitions, seasonality, resources and operational capacity are all factors to consider. The most effective plans take time, from research to discussion to articulating recommendations.
3. "I've got something. Not much, but it could be a life form." Do you have the capacity to handle the plan internally or is outside facilitation needed? Some organizations will be in position to have a staff or Board member gather research, lead discussion sessions, make recommendations and write the plan. But the benefits of having an outside, neutral perspective may outweigh the benefits of handling it internally.
4. "Do or do not. There is no try." Is there initial discovery that could be done internally right now? Beginning to collect key data points can jumpstart your process. Then your first internal planning meeting will have some information to stoke dialog right away.
5. "You will go to the Dagobah system. There you will learn from Yoda." Are there upcoming venues for starting a strategic plan conversation? A strategic plan conversation can be added to the agenda at retreats, executive team meetings and Board meetings. Kicking off your next plan may not be all that far away.
Finally, the strategic plan needn't feel like a burden or extra work. Rather it should fit into or enhance your daily activities as an organization. The data and discussion provided by the plan can make an impact right away.
Turnstone can write and facilitate strategic plans. Contact us for more information.
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