Overcoming your board members’ reluctance regarding strategic planning

We find the biggest obstacle in the way of embarking on a strategic planning process is the last strategic planning process. Too often the last planning process took too long, involved way too many meetings, and resulted in a plan that has been sitting on the shelf ever since. Add to this the reality that some of your board members are going through equally unsatisfying planning processes where they work, and it is easy to appreciate why even talking about strategic planning gets postponed: “We’ve got a lot on our plates right now. Let’s talk about that after the new year.”

Board members may also think (or at least hope) that you already have a strategic plan in place: “Wasn’t that the big binder you pointed to during board orientation?” In fact, many organizations have a strategic plan in place…they just aren’t following it.

What we typically find is that most board members believe there is a strategic plan in place to guide the organization, but once we start asking them about the details, we’ll start hearing statements like this:

  • “We were in the midst of the planning process when our last executive director left, and we’ve never picked it back up.”
  • “We finished the plan, and then everything changed, and the assumptions upon which it was built were no longer valid.”
  • “It was a five year plan, but we found that we accomplished a lot more than we expected in the first year, and we quickly discarded things that didn’t work, so we stopped referring to it.”

It is your job to put in place a planning process that gets the organization the plan it needs—a plan to guide the work of the board and the staff into the future—without losing any of the planners along the way. That may sound a bit dramatic, but the reality is that a poorly conceived, inadequately facilitated, or dragged-out planning process can leave staff and volunteers feeling tired and empty rather than energized about the organization and its future.

If you are interested in a no-nonsense strategic planning process, contact us today. Or take a few moments to checkout our Starboard Leadership Consulting website for more planning advice or information about our consulting work: www.starboardleadership.com.