Ukeles Associates, Inc. crafts options that are both innovative and realistic and are highly skilled at marshalling information to assess the strengths and weaknesses of options.
We have an especially strong practice in strategic planning for organizations and communities
UAI'S APPROACH TO STRATEGIC PLANNING
1. What Is Strategic Planning
Strategic planning is a process of systematic, organized thinking about the direction an organization, institution or community should take into the future.
Its purpose is to chart a multi-year overall road map. It is a framework for action, not a detailed blueprint. Rather than a one-time effort, strategic planning is an ongoing process. From time to time, an organization, institution or community may make a concentrated effort to summarize its strategic thinking of at that particular point in time. A document, as in "The Strategic Plan," is incidental to the process, not the product. Sensible strategic planning is mid-range -- i.e. a time horizon of five years is the maximum feasible given the uncertainties of community and organizational life.
A vision and mission statement is the heart of strategic planning. This statement should project a clear view of the self-image of the organization, what it seeks to accomplish and how it relates to the community, whom it seeks to serve and how. A good mission statement conveys not only what the organization is trying to be but also what it is NOT trying to be. The critical skill in crafting meaningful vision and mission statements is the ability to first articulate, and then integrate, competing visions that are typical of multi-constituency organizations
2. When Is Strategic Planning Likely To Be Beneficial?
Strategic planning is not risk-free, and there are better and worse times to undertake it. A strategic planning process is not likely to benefit an organization whose raison d'etre is in doubt, organizations in financial crisis, or organizations without stable professional or volunteer leadership.
3. Pluses and Minuses of Strategic Planning
|An effective strategic planning process can build a sense of community and teamwork within an organization, generate realistic optimism about the future, build confidence, and make better decisions.
It can strengthen the organization -- if extraordinary efforts are made to insure that the Plan will be implemented.
|It requires a great deal of effort; if badly done, the effort can lead to bad decisions; it can divide the organization; such as when the process is captured by one interest group or constituency.
Everyone is concerned lest the organization end up with another 'book on the shelf'. Many examples exist of good strategic planning processes that were not implemented.
4. Model for Strategic Planning: Focus On Strategic Issues
Policy issues are the important questions or choices of direction facing an organization at any point in time. Policy issues involve disagreements within an organization about a decision or action to be undertaken. If there is agreement, there is no issue. As in any kind of planning, posing the right question is more than half the battle.
Strategic issues are policy choices that are fundamental, central, long-range, and broad. Typically, these choices affect many people and substantial resources. The resolution of strategic issues is likely to have a major impact on the constituents and functions of the organization. Strategic issues are often contrasted with operational issues -- the immediate, specific and day to day.
At any point in time, complex voluntary organizations face more strategic issues than they can usefully analyze and resolve. If strategic planning attempts to be comprehensive, that is to address all the strategic issues, it is likely that nothing will be accomplished. The strategic planning agenda should include a relatively small number of very important issues that subsequent phases of strategic planning will seek to resolve.
5. Typical Strategic Issues
What should be the overall role or mission of the organization in the community? In what arena or dimension of communal life does or could the organization "add value" to the community? What should the priorities be?
What functions should the organization perform (in the light of its role or mission)? Are there functions that the organization performs today or responsibilities that it carries out that are inconsistent with its mission and therefore should be dropped or changed? Are there functions that it does not perform that it should?
How can the organization maintain or enhance its base of human and financial support? How should the organization recruit, develop, and engage leadership for financial and other roles in the organization? How can the organization increase its fund-raising?
6. Who Should Be Involved
The process of strategic planning should itself be a community or organization-building exercise, involving representatives of key constituencies along with volunteer and professional leadership. In framing participation in the process, it is important to maintain a balance between those who know the organization or community well, and understand the complexity of the issues, and those who are likely to bring a fresh perspective, new expertise, and can be constructive critics. Both need to be involved if the process is to be effective.
The majority of those who are involved should be knowledgeable about, and committed to, the organization. A minority should be people of significant stature in the economic, civic or political life of the community who have not hitherto been involved in the organization or institution.