Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Dynamic Approach to Strategic Planning

Andy Cole
Strategy Development
Blog Post 4, Week 6
“The Dynamic Approach to Strategic Planning”

             In his article from the Philanthropy Journal, author Jeffrey Steed explores the benefits of implementing a dynamic strategic plan for an NPO over traditional planning methodologies.  Once an organization establishes its forward vision and outlined mission statements, objectives and milestones can become fixed, creating a “static environment during implementation.”  This can lead to a drain in resources and hinder organizational growth due to, among others, missed opportunities unincorporated in the set strategic plan. 
            Steed suggests taking the traditional strategic plan model and introducing a “dynamic, flexible perspective” to its vision.  The idea, according to Steed, is analogous to an organization’s own mission statement.  By adding a mission-oriented flexible plan for unknown opportunities, a philanthropic organization can incorporate changes to its industrial landscape to better accomplish its vision by economically using its available resources.  One of the best practices among philanthropic organizations in utilizing these flexible mission statements is to, over the course of a strategic plan’s timeline, meet and identify external opportunities.  This will give the organization a valuable opportunity to evaluate the amount of additional resources needed to incorporate such new opportunities among its strategic plan and determine if its worth while for the long-term. 
            Despite the potential to overlook, potentially critical, new opportunities for organizational steps, strategic plans are crucial to an organization’s long and short-term success.  Strategic plans guide organizations’ leaders and their managing of internal resources to drive successful campaigns and programs.  This influences the organization as a whole, allowing staff and other organizational support networks to respond to operational challenges or better execute their respective tasks. 
            While traditional strategic planning helps organizations and their leadership to ‘see the forest for the trees,’ the lack of a flexible perspective during its implementation can be detrimental.    Without the ability to adapt to changes in their internal and external environments, organizations may loose focus or face an impediment that prevents them form moving forward.  As such, organizations may abandon an otherwise valuable plan or (worse for a philanthropic organization) social benefit, wasting valuable resources at a high cost.
            Strategic plan development and implementation present delicate resource allocation, strong leadership, foresight, and a bit of luck.  Adding a dynamic component to a traditional strategic plan is an economic mechanism to decrease the risk of missed opportunities and further an organization’s impact.  Many philanthropies and NPOs utilize mission statements as an overarching objective to best serve constituents and accomplish their set goals, without explaining concrete steps to carry out.  Similarly, a dynamic approach gives an organization the ability to keep its vision in mind without missing new developments or getting boxed in by rigid implementation processes.

Questions/Comments to consider:
1.     What are the most missed opportunities during traditional strategic plans?
2.     How do these missed opportunities effect organizations in the long-term versus the short-term?
3.     Does the issue of traditional versus dynamic strategy implementation lend itself to certain industries over others?
4.     Aren’t all strategic plans inherently dynamic?

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