Tuesday, November 13, 2012

‘Tis the Season… for Strategic Planning

As we mentioned in class earlier in the mini, it’s that time of year where many organizations are heavy in their strategic planning so that it can be approved and reviewed by the various necessary groups (boards, teams, partners). Some organizations will even block out organizational time, go out of the office and work on it as a team – this is specifically common for small organizations or for large organizations with small executive teams. 
My organization, GTECH Strategies, spent a few long afternoons shut in our conference room hashing out some details. Then, each program areas had their own personal follow up strategic plans and action plans. In one week, it has not been uncommon to have 5 meetings scheduled with 3 different teams. In the meantime, we need to shuffle all the ideas together, combine them with target goals and determine the metrics we will use to report our success.
At the same time, budgeting conversations must happen and must include as much if not all of the goals and plans we are making during the planning process. Sometimes, the two teams responsible for these
This process is not only tedious, but also tenuous. It’s great to come up with a strategic plan, but for many organizations, like GTECH which is a non-profit, some factors of business are out of our control – what types of projects are being funded, what neighborhoods are getting attention etc. As foundations and other funders go through their strategic planning process as well, in many ways our team needs to wait, hear what they’ve decided and then fold it into our own. I think doing it together would be helpful from my perspective, but I understand the desire to make decisions then analyze them.
After all of the effort that goes into these discussions, a big part of the staff never want to think about it again, but of course that just defeats the purpose. The goal, then, becomes making the information and the work fun and new. This can be done through the evaluation process, but it can also lead to some issues. For example, now that we have completed a plan – who owns it? Who is responsible for verifying that the decisions are made according to the aplan? The easy answer is that we all are, but then the follow up question is of course – what happens when someone doesn’t take on the responsibility or forgets? What measures are in place for the rest of the team that have participated?
What is your season, reason and the results of your business/ organization’s strategic planning process?


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