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What is it?
"Strategic planning is the systematic process through which an
organization agrees on - and builds commitment among key stakeholders to -
priorities that are essential to its mission and are responsive to the
planning guides the acquisition and allocation of resources to achieve
What it Isn't:
- Is strategic because it involves deciding
how to respond to changing circumstances;
- Is systematic in that it follows a
structured and data-based process;
- Sets priorities and shapes
decision-making about direction and goals;
- Builds commitment by engaging key
stakeholders in decision-making and priority-setting; and
- Provides direction that guides the
allocation of resources.
- Does not predict the future. It is a plan for the future
based on current and past information.
- Is not a substitute for the exercise of sound judgement.
"It is a tool that supports the intuition, reasoning skills, and
judgement that people bring to the work of their organization."
- Is rarely a predictable and straightforward undertaking.
It shows the way.
Strategic planning helps...
When Should Strategic Planning
- Define the purpose of an organization.
- Build a common vision.
- Establish realistic goals and objectives that are consistent with
the organization's mission.
- Convey goals and objectives to key stakeholders.
- Build consensus on where the organization is going.
- Build strong Board and Staff teams.
- Establish a baseline from which progress can be measured.
- When a new organization is formed. The strategic plan should be
integral component of the overall business plan (along with the
marketing and financial plans).
- When an organization is about to launch a new venture, e.g., a new
department or line of service(s).
- Generally speaking, a full-blown strategic planning process should
be undertaken every five years. That said, if the organization's
internal or external environments are experiencing rapid change,
components of the strategic planning process may need to be revisited
on annual basis.
- Action plans arising from the strategic plan should be up-dated
- Progress on the implementation of the strategic plan should be
reviewed by the Board regularly especially if the rate of change in
and around the organization is volatile.
There are numerous excellent print and electronic tools and templates
available to assist organizations with their strategic planning efforts.
for some of our favourites.
A Consultant is/may be useful when:
- The organization has limited expertise in strategic planning;
- The timeframe is limited;
- Previous strategic planning efforts fell short of expectation or
- There is disagreement or a lack of consensus among key
- An objective third-party is needed in order to lend a fresh and
unbiased perspective; or
- A funder requests a review and/or assurance that their money is
being directed to its intended purpose.