De-Mystifying Strategic Planning

The strategic planning process can seem overwhelming because we do it so infrequently, but strategic planning should be a regular part of your board’s work cycle. It ensures that your organization is proactive rather than reactive, it establishes an opportunity for your board to consider new opportunities or changes to current service lines and programs, and it considers the mission and vision to ensure the direction forward is still appropriate. Continual focus on strategy will keep your organization competitive and healthy!

A good first step is to assign the strategic planning process to a board task force or committee.  This ongoing committee ensures continuity and maintains the strategic focus that you need to operate in today’s competitive environment.  

The decision to use a consultant can be made by the board or planning committee and is usually based on how extensive the process needs to be. If you haven’t done strategic planning for a number of years, it may be wise to have an outside resource to support you. A consultant can help you map out a good strategic process which might include:

  • Stakeholder input to discern priorities
  • Board and leadership education on industry trends
  • Evaluation of the condition of buildings, land, and other capital
  • Competitive market study
  • An operations review of current programs and services
  • Financial review to inform potential decisions and discern key financial ratios
  • Analysis and interpretation of the data that is obtained
  • A deep dive into the current mission and vision statements to determine if these statements still represent the organization and its aspirational direction

When all the data is collected and analyzed, often a 3 to 6-month process, a board retreat is an appropriate setting to discern what that information is telling you.  The use of a SOAR/SWOT analysis (strengths, opportunities, aspirations, results, weaknesses, and threats) can guide your decision-making process. Again, a consultant or facilitator can help de-mystify this process and lead you to high-level strategic initiatives. 

Strategic planning is a lot of work but can, and should, be an exciting and forward-thinking time! Take the opportunity to create new energy, and ensure strategic direction and a vision for your future. 

MHS Consulting (MHSC) supports the strategic planning process and is a valuable resource for all of you who are looking to develop that process. For more information on how MHSC can support you, contact Jeremy Kauffman, members receive a discounted rate!)

Karen Lehman, President / CEO, MHS


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