Use Strategic Planning to Take Charge in 2014

Many of us equate “planning” with “booooooring!”  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  And planning is an essential tool for organizations to articulate and refine their mission and stay on track.

There are four factors that make planning a powerful boost for organizations:

The involvement of those who will be affected by the plan.
This includes staff, constituents or members, boards, donors, etc.  There are a number of ways to gather input from these groups:

  • user friendly on-line surveys
  • planning retreats
  • focus groups
  • town hall meetings
  • one-on-one interviews

Many organizations use some combination of on-line processes and group interactions.

Collection of data.
Effective planning for the future involves understanding past efforts and using what is relevant to today’s realities.  Besides personnel data, the financial realities involved in serving, including all streams of revenue–fees, endowments, annual giving, and various forms of third source funding–are critical to planning for the future.  The data itself does not tell the story.  It is the analysis of the data that contributes to planning efforts.  Answering questions like:  What are the trends indicated by the data?  What is increasing, decreasing, remaining stable?  This is the rational basis for planning.

Understanding the strategic issues facing the organization.
Strategic issues often arise from the analysis of data.  They may involve environmental factors which we have no control over–changing demographics, the rising use of technology, conditions of property, political factors in the church and world, etc.  They often call for us to make changes “in the way we do things.”  They challenge us to be bold.  Sometimes the issues involve growth; sometimes diminishment; sometimes total disruption; sometimes a windfall of opportunities.

Bonding and deepening cohesiveness.
A process which maximizes the power of planning involves opportunities for storytelling, for faith sharing and for visioning.  Planning opens the door to looking at the “heart of the matter,” and to share what that means.  Planning gives rise to loss, to “letting go” and the need to grieve together.  It challenges people to see what they value most.  In dealing with limited resources, groups prioritize their actions based on their mission, values and vision.

Rev up your organization with a thoughtful, comprehensive planning process and your 2014 will be off to a great start!