Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Guest Blogger Marta Siberio on Strategic Planning: Are you ready for it?

Not every organization is ready for strategic planning. Before you decide to undertake a strategic planning process, consider these factors: 

§ Crisis-free: the organization’s fundamentals should be stable. If there are financial or significant personnel problems, handle them first. If your Board is in turmoil, invest in board member development before you start the strategic planning process.

§ Leadership stability and alignment: it is best to do this work when the CEO and Board leadership are committed to being involved with the organization for most of the period of the plan being developed. If the Board is not interested in planning, invest the time so members learn the value of the process and are ready for it before you start.

§ Openness to possibilities and learning: assess how open the organization is to new ideas and possibilities; if you already think you know all the answers, and just want to get buy-in, you are not likely to reap the benefits of the process.

§ Organizational bandwidth: strategic planning means more work for staff and Board during the planning process, so have a clear-eyed view of how leaders will re-focus their time to be able to engage in thoughtful conversations.

One of the most important ingredients to a successful strategic planning process is time: keeping up momentum while not rushing people through challenging thinking requires careful attention. A strategic plan can be completed in four months, although most take between 6-9 months. I no longer recommend full day retreats; a series of 3-hour meetings with sufficient time in between for additional research and reflection results in more considered strategies. Finally, it is important to take the time throughout the process to talk with key participants about their experience, and make any necessary modifications to ensure full engagement.

Other resources you will need:

§ Organizational data: developing an accurate picture of where your organization has come from and where you are today requires grappling with your data. No matter what state it’s in, sorting and making sense of your historical performance is an important step in a successful planning process.

§ Stakeholder engagement: you need to be ready to identify and access those individuals best positioned to comment on your organization's work, its value and any shortcomings. They should be knowledgeable about the fields in which you work so they can identify possible opportunities and challenges.

Guest blogger Marta Siberio is the principal in Marta Siberio Consulting, which has provided organizational development and strategic planning services since 1993. Her previous post, "Strategic Planning: Is it for you?" is here.

No comments:

Popular Posts