Canadian Christian Relief & Development Association

Set a Good Stage for the Strategic Planning Process: Some Conditions for Success

By Chris Bosch, Chisel Consulting

When thinking about initiating a strategic planning process, you should consider your plan for delivering the plan. How are you going to navigate the journey from beginning to end?  Thinking about the stages from the beginning does at least two things:  it sets the organization at ease (“you’ve got this”), and it helps break up the large project into discrete and manageable tasks.  Here is a checklist of items to consider as you get started.

  1. Know the answer to the question why (and a few whats).  Why change?  Why now?  What is the ‘burning platform’ in the organization?  What will motivate the staff, board and supporters to join the planning process?  What will provide the sense of urgency?
  2. The senior leaders and the board must agree on the need for a fresh look at the organization’s situation and the necessity for re-establishing its comparative advantage.
  3. Start with the end in mind.  What will the strategy look like?  What will it include?  Knowing what the finished product looks like will help everyone imagine the end at any point along the journey.
  4. Build a team of volunteer advisors.  The senior leaders of the organization may not always be available for insights during the strategy development process.  Therefore, it is important to have a team of no more than 8 people who are naturally curious, see the big picture, and represent the whole organization and not just their department or division.  Representation from each division is not essential but a balance of gender, race, perspectives, and roles is important.
  5. Starting with the end in mind means also considering the change management that will be required when the new strategy is delivered.  Review John Kotter’s eight steps of change management and consider how you can prepare the organization as you develop the plans.
  6. Rev the mental engines by doing some reading and inviting others to join you.
  7. Consider whether you are delivering a rolling plan or a fixed-year plan.  A rolling plan does not have a fixed end date.  It constantly considers the big aspirations of the organization and recalibrates its plans as required to achieve the aspirations.
  8. Ensure the organization uses the same definitions for strategy terms.  What do you mean by themes, pillars, goals, objectives, activities, and key performance indicators?
  9. Send a message to the staff, board and other constituents that you are doing something fresh, unique, and world-changing by avoiding the simplicity of the term strategy.  Some examples of new terms are: blueprint, manifesto, new horizons, off the map, journey, discovery, voyageur, next, or rebuild.
  10. Pull together a prayer team and begin bringing the affairs of the organization to Jesus.  What encouragement and exhortations does he have for you and your team?  He’s waiting to join you.
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