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
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: