Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning

Practical advice, an efficient process, and a strategic plan that leads to action

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A plan that is truly strategic

A strategic plan is not an annual work-plan, although your work-plan should flow out of the strategic plan. Strategic plans have a longer time horizon, looking out into the future two, three, or even as many as five years to determine where you want to be and what you want to accomplish.

At the end of a successful strategic planning process, all those involved should be able to say: “We know what we want to accomplish together and how we are going to get there, and we have a framework for making choices.” Along the way you are likely to make some tough decisions about what the organization should and should not be doing. You will also develop multi-year strategies—grounded in reality and responsive to your environment—that are supported by your organization’s resources and unique strengths.

Ultimately, your strategic plan should guide the development of your annual action planning process, including the development of work-plans that include specific and measurable objectives linked to your budget and resources.

A manageable process tailored to your unique needs

Knowing that your organization needs a plan and undertaking a strategic planning process are two different things. Organizations too often put-off or avoid strategic planning because they worry that it will be too complicated or cumbersome, take too much time, or result in little more than a plan that sits on the shelf.

Our planning experience with dozens of clients (both for-profit and non-profit) has demonstrated that successful strategic planning—strategic planning that truly guides the organization into the future—can be accomplished efficiently, in a timely manner, and without gobbling-up staff and/or volunteer resources.

We know your organization is unique, as are the people who care about it. Instead of presenting a “one-size-fits-all” approach to planning, we spend time getting to know your organization, assessing your needs, and then tailoring a planning process to achieve your desired outcomes and meet your budget. Together we will develop a planning process that meets your timeline, stays reasonable in scope, and delivers effective strategies to guide your organization to future success.

Strategies for engaging stakeholders and creating buy-in

In developing their planning processes, most organizations recognize the importance of getting buy-in and a shared sense of ownership from key stakeholders—clients, community members, partners, donors, volunteers, and staff. People like to be asked for their opinions, and your strategic planning process can be an ideal time to seek and get stakeholder input from those who can play an essential role in your plan’s success.

We are prepared to explore with you who it is you really need to hear from in your planning process and how best to engage them in a meaningful yet efficient manner.

Our stakeholder outreach often includes one-on-one in-person interviews, multiple discussion groups, staff and board retreats, on-line and paper surveys, and phone interviews. We’ve learned that there is tremendous value, and greater receptivity to sharing, when our consulting team conducts the stakeholder outreach on your behalf as the impartial gatherer of information. You’ll be looking for honest and direct feedback, and we can get that for you.

While short-term action plans can sometimes be created in isolation, plans that are truly strategic are always better when those who care, or should care, about your organization’s future are given a voice.

Success is a plan that results in action

“So what will we have when we’re done?” It’s the question we are asked by every client.

Our answer is, “You’ll have a plan that truly guides your work, results in action, and delivers measurable results.”

Specifically, when our clients embark upon a comprehensive strategic planning process they can count on the following:

  • Agreement on a concise mission statement that makes it clear what your purpose is and what you exist to do.
  • A shared vision of where you want to travel together over the next few years and what you want to accomplish by the time you get there.
  • A handful of “strategic priorities” or goals that will make it clear what you plan to accomplish and that will serve as the framework for your action-planning.
  • Measurable objectives that provide specific, quantifiable, realistic targets that measure the accomplishment of your work over a specified period of time.
  • Action plans for achieving your objectives that are tied to budget, staff and/or volunteer resources, and timelines.
  • A structured monitoring process that ensures that the long-term strategy stays front and center, despite the pressures of the day-to-day.

Along the way we will help you engage your key stakeholders in the process, communicate the details of your plan, and support the successful implementation of a plan that is truly strategic and delivers measurable results.

Begin here

For nonprofit clients, we’ve written a guide to help you and your board consider the options as you prepare to embark upon a strategic planning process: Before You Plan—Strategic Planning Advice for Nonprofits. In addition, we have developed a variety of resources and written extensively about strategic planning, and you will find several blog posts on strategic planning in the Starboard Blog section of our web site.

Let’s talk (free consultations)

Our Maine clients can count on us to begin every project with a conversation—a conversation that helps us to understand your unique needs and consider how best to assist you. Call now—(207) 992-4400—to begin the conversation with Starboard’s president, Jeff Wahlstrom.

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