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May 2013
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Archives for May 2013

Strategic Planning and FEAR

Strategic Planning — the thought can often strike fear in the hearts of many. I once read that fear stands for – false evidence appearing real. For me, the evidence of strategic planning not being worth the effort (except to check a box on a grant application) has once again been dispelled by two recent events in which I have participated. The examples below may help you change your opinion that strategic planning is not a fearful, “necessary evil” but worth the effort.

The first event was the Special Olympics of Texas ( I have had the pleasure of working with this group on two occasions in recent months…..not in the area of strategic planning but in the area of team building. The Special Olympics of Texas has a very detailed strategic plan with quantifiable goals that are known to all of their staff. What I have observed is that to make the strategic plan part of their day-to-day operations, they have been working to enhance the teamwork at all of their offices across the state. Team building is also one of their strategic goals.

The team building, which I have been conducting, comes in the form meetings/retreats where participants understand various aspects of how team members communicate (using the Communication Styles Survey), understand various working styles, and what teamwork means. This is a wonderful way to build cohesiveness and ensuring a strategic plan gets from paper into reality. Special Olympics of Texas has quantifiable goals and they are incorporating team building to help facilitate the attainment of those goals.

The second event involves the Christi Center in Austin, Texas ( I have worked with many organizations and this is the first that has gone from the paper strategic plan to incorporating it into every aspect of the organization. Board members, who lead vision priority committees, are championing those priorities. The vision priority committees have members who are working on the action steps for that priority. The quarterly board meeting agenda is developed around the strategic plan. They have already committed to updating the plan on its one-year anniversary in January.
The feedback from board members has been:

• We have structure.
• My colleagues in other nonprofits think I am crazy to be excited about our strategic plan.
• I look at the plan on a regular basis to be sure what I am doing is helping to complete a priority.

The board, paid and volunteer staff of the Christi Center can see a marked difference in the way this plan is being handled and how previous plans were handled. I think a lot of it has to do with the maturity of the organization and the competence and leadership of its board and executive director.

Bottom line—-Don’t fear strategic planning. The evidence that strategic planning takes too much time, effort, and there is little return on the investment, in my opinion, is not true. It is just fear (false evidence appearing real).