• Amy Clark

Yes, we have a great strategic plan! Let me grab it off of the shelf...

Updated: Jul 11, 2018

Are traditional strategic plans a thing of the past? While binders with pages of goals and objectives still exist, is that what our modern nonprofit organizations are needing or using to inspire the daily work? Is the traditional prescriptive plan serving us to engage our communities for a better tomorrow? Can we all understand the plan at a level where we can discuss where we are headed, what it will take to get there, and what success looks like?

I’m a fan of real time strategic planning, which is outlined by David La Piana in his book titled, The Nonprofit Strategy Revolution Real-Time Strategic Planning in a Rapid-Response World. In his book, he talks about the topic of differentiation; “The most revolutionary concept for nonprofits is perhaps that the way to succeed in this market is by differentiation: identifying and constantly strengthening a competitive advantage" (La Piana p.49).

Why do we hesitate to tell the world about what we do best? How often do we spread our resources thin for programs on the edge of our specialty that are marginally serving the mission? Most organizations know what core programming produces the strongest mission outcomes, and perhaps have the data to back it up, but can easily fall into a routine of giving disproportionate energy towards less impactful programs which draws from limited resources, and ultimately can dilute the overall mission impact. When you are small, the allocation of resources is significant.

Herein lies the beauty of an agile strategy framework. You are freed to re-think that decade-old strategic plan with objectives that are at risk of becoming less relevant and impactful each year they sit on the shelf.

When you build strategic thinking into the fabric of your organization as a way that you work, vs. a plan that you have, you empower your talent to bring forth continuous ideas to tackle the work behind the mission with creativity and excitement. Strategy is continuous; good planning aligns the work and helps to properly steward the resources. Doing the work can be generative and fun when you know where to focus your efforts.

The needs of the sector are challenging nonprofits to build organizational capacity in new ways. A focused and flexible strategic framework that flows through all you do, along with guiding documents such as decision filters and a dynamic work plan, will go a long way in aligning your team to achieve your organization’s vision. In the end, it is about preparing your nonprofit to be nimble enough to respond, less vulnerable to the changing patterns of the world around it, and well positioned to deliver upon what it does best. It takes focused effort and work to get there, but isn't your mission worth it?

Let’s rethink what's inside the dusty binder and Awaken the Potential of your nonprofit strategies!


Contact me and we can discuss how to embrace strategic thinking to put your vision to action.

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