Let me set the scene. You’re a board member on your local sport club, likely because your child participates in the sport. You’ve got a lot on your task list. Perhaps, too much. The schedule is full with planning for the season, keeping things going, or wrapping the season up. There’s too much money in the bank, or not nearly enough. The board keeps talking about projects that are considered a pipe dream: buying or building a facility, launching new programming, etc. But it’s only ever talk. And truthfully, you aren’t sure where to begin.
Sound familiar? It’s possible that you need a strategic plan to bring your dreams to reality.
Strategic plans help work towards long-term plans by bringing mid-term plans to life. They are typically for a longer period of time. Three to five years is common, but could be upwards of eight to ten years as well (although this is rare and used only in special circumstances). They align the organization under a unified vision and assist in allocating resources toward those goals. As well, strategic plans communicate the organization’s priorities to the wider public.
Strategic plans are not meant to be documents that are written and then sit on a shelf, never to be referred to again. They’re meant to be regularly interacted with. Changes can even be made if there are significant adjustments in priorities (what up, 2020). Intentionally working to achieve the plan and evaluating whether progress is being made are best practices in working with a strategic plan. My pal, Manal Sayid, at Sayid Consulting offers 11 things to consider when strategic planning.
An operational plan is a shorter-term plan that is a clear template of how individuals, teams, or the organization will execute the strategic plan. Operational plans are typically developed annually and are accompanied by the annual budget. These plans outline the steps to be taken, by whom, when, and for how much. They break the strategic plan down into manageable goals. It’s something about eating the elephant one bite at a time.
A key element that is often missed in the strategic planning lifecycle is the element of evaluation. Strategic planning statements are sometimes lofty and unspecific. They attempt to be inspirational instead of detailing targets for action. Therefore, without defining how we will evaluate whether specific items have been achieved, it’s impossible to know for sure. Not only that, we must define when we will evaluate. It’s important to complete formative evaluation (evaluation while the plan is in progress) and summative evaluation (evaluation at the plan’s conclusion). It is common practice to evaluate at the end of each operational plan, at the midway point, and again at the end. This ensures that you are on track, or can change course if you are not.
Who needs to know about the progress of a strategic plan? Those who are responsible for executing the plan (such as staff or volunteers) and those who are responsible for the direction of the organization (the board of directors). Who might want to know about the progress of the strategic plan? Participants, their guardians, and those who govern your organization. Many of the initiatives of an organization concern the participants and invested participants will be interested to learn about this. Parents, caregivers and guardians would also be interested to hear about the progress on the plan. Because they are usually paying registration fees, they like to know where their money is going and why they should continue to support the club.
Strategic planning is easier said than done. It’s challenging to find the time and brain-space to make it happen. It can be daunting to plan the entire framework of the plan, especially when you’ve never done anything like this before. I’m here to help- I love planning! I will guide you through the process and make it enjoyable and easy to understand. Learn more about Spark Solutions’ strategic planning services.