What is a Strategic Plan?

Simply said, a strategic plan is a map towards where you want to go and a vision for the future. The process reviews the past, scans the present and strategizes for the future. There are several steps involved in the strategic planning process.

  1. Information Gathering and Reviewing of Documents

To prepare for a strategic planning session, as a consultant I would review the current strategic plan and if available, any needs assessments and issue identification gathered. If already developed, the organization’s mission and vision would also be reviewed.

  1. Understanding of the Scope of Work

It is important to understand the nature of the work and systems in place to put the strategic plan in context of the work environment.

  1. Conduct an Environmental Scan – Considering Internal and External Factors

An environmental scan would be conducted to provide information in the form of Backgrounder, to the group prior to the strategic planning session. This will help facilitate discussions with group/s.

The environmental scan will include both internal and external factors. These indicators may include internal issues and trends that are inherent to the organization, for example, budget issues, employee turnover, and changes in leadership.

Components of external scanning that could be considered include:

  • Trends: What trends are occurring in the marketplace or sector that could affect the organization either positively or negatively?
  • Competition: What is your competition doing that provides them an advantage?
  • Technology: What developments in technology may impact your association in the future?  Are there new technologies that can make your organization more efficient?
  • Customer/clients: How is your customer base changing?  What is impacting your ability to provide top-notch client service?
  • Economy: What is happening in the economy that could affect future plans?
  • Labour supply: What is the labour market like in the geographies where you operate?  How can you ensure ready access to workers?
  • Political/legislative arena: What impact will election outcomes have on your organization?

Communication Prior to Strategic Planning Session

  1. Gather and coordinate stakeholder input – collect information (e.g. survey) from stakeholders to research their priorities for the next 5 years and what will be your organization’s role in meeting these needs.
  2. Distribute Reflection Questions Prior to Strategic Planning Session

The consultant will distribute questions to the strategic planning group to reflect upon before the planning session to facilitate the needs assessment, environmental scan and SWOT analysis.

  1. Identify Key Issues/Needs Emerging
  2. Develop Planning Session Background Report

The consultant can prepare a background report to be distributed to the strategic planning group prior to the session. In previous sessions, I have included:

  • Analysis of data from the stakeholder survey – Need and/or issue identification
  • Environmental Scan results
  • Pertinent information extracted from needs assessments, reports and any applicable research documents.

8. Facilitated Strategic Planning session/s

In facilitating a strategic planning session, I will provide an outline of the process. A sample is listed below.

  • Introductions and reviewing strategic planning members expectations for the day
  • Setting ground rules for discussion
  • Introducing strategic planning and the agenda for the day
  • Current Situation – Brief summary of notes from Backgrounder Report developed by the Consultant.
  • Future Outlook (Brainstorming Ideas) – Given the mission/goals of the organization and the issues identified what are you hoping to achieve in: two years’ time and in 10 years’ time? Visioning exercise for the Committee
  • Prioritization of Ideas from Brainstorming (The most critical)
  • Facilitated discussion on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
  • BIG Picture Goals – From envisioning the future and the SWOT analysis the strategic planning group will then begin to develop big picture goals. The organization needs to know where it wants to go before deciding how it will get there. Setting goals collectively can help you figure that out.
  • Prioritization of Goals – Through a facilitated exercise the group will identify goals that are first, second, third and fourth in importance/priority based on:

Value – contributes to the purpose

Appropriate – consistent with the organization’s vision and mission

Feasible – given the amount of resources

Acceptable – to the stakeholders

Timing – Can it be implemented at this time?

  • Strategies – The How of Reaching Your Goals – What ideas do you have in reaching the goals you have developed?
  • Wrap-Up and Next Steps

9. Writing the Plan and Communicating It

If you need assistance with any of these steps, please contact me at Diana@mindwisecommunications.com. I would be happy to help.

Strategic Planning Consulting Projects