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Summary of the Strategic Planning Process

The Strategic Planning Process At A Glance

The strategic planning process is preceded by a number of critical preparation activities including forming a strategic planning committee, reviewing and finalizing the planning timetable, finalizing information gathering and analysis strategies, determining who else to involve in the planning process and the nature of their involvement. The strategic planning process consists of seven steps described below:

Step 1 - Gathering and Analyzing Information. The first step consists of three components: an external assessment, a market or constituent assessment and an internal assessment. The purpose of the external assessment is to identify and assess changes and trends in the world around the nonprofit likely to have a significant impact on it over the next 5-10 years. The purpose of the constituent assessment is to identify and assess changes in the needs and perceptions of the nonprofit's markets and constituencies. The purpose of the internal assessment is to assess internal structure, process and operations of the nonprofit and based on this assessment, to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses.

Step 2 - Identification of Critical Strategic Issues, Choices and Challenges. Critical issues are fundamental policy or program concerns that define the most important situations and choices a nonprofit faces now and in the future. Critical issues can reflect long-standing problems in the nonprofit, the community served or recent events that are anticipated to have a significant impact on the nonprofit and/or community served. Critical issues can also reflect major shifts in thinking that challenge "business as usual.” The selection of issues is important because it determines range of decisions the nonprofit will consider in the future.

Step 3 - Development of a Mission Statement. The mission statement is a broad description of what we do, with/for whom we do it, our distinctive competence, and WHY we do it (our ultimate end). If a mission statement already exists, the focus of this step is on reviewing it in light of the emerging vision statement and if necessary revising the language.

Step 4 - Development of a Strategic Vision Statement. The vision statement describes what we want the nonprofit to look like in ideal terms in the future - the results we will be achieving and characteristics the nonprofit will need to possess in order to achieve those results. The strategic vision statement provides direction and inspiration for goal setting.

Step 5 - Development of Strategic Goal Statements. Strategic goals are broad statements of what the nonprofit hopes to achieve in the next 3 years. Goals focus on outcomes or results and are qualitative in nature. Often goal statements flow from some of the critical issue statements developed earlier in the planning process.

Step 6 - Development of Strategies for Each Goal. Strategies are statements of major approach or method for attaining goals and resolving specific issues. Ideas for strategy emerge from the earlier internal, external and market assessments, -- especially the strengths and weaknesses identified in the internal assessment as well as the implications statements developed as part of the market and external assessments.

Step 7 - Development of Annual Objectives. Objectives are specific, concrete, measurable statements of what will be done to achieve a goal generally within a one-year time frame. Objectives include answers to the following questions: Who, will accomplish what, by when, and how will we measure the outcomes or results of the objective.

In summary, if we were to view strategic planning as a journey, the first two steps of the process - information gathering and analysis and identifying strategic issues tell us where we are. The next step – Developing a Mission - reminds us why we're on the journey in the first place. And developing a Vision - helps us determine the destination. We get to the vision through the accomplishment of goals. We accomplish our goals by means of the strategies we devise for each goal. Finally, we translate goals and strategies into concrete action through development of objectives.

For more information about our strategic planning services to nonprofits, contact Frank Martinelli at: frank@createthefuture.com.


"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading." Lao Tzu  View Past Quotes

frank@createthefuture.com susan@createthefuture.com

2014 Creative Information Systems 

 In Association with Amazon.com

Revised: October 20, 2014