You need a strategy before a strategic plan.
Many grantmakers support nonprofit strategic planning initiatives because strategy is critical to an organization’s impact and sustainability. But in today’s fast paced reality, your constituents are not well-served by a strategic plan that is obsolete before it leaves your printer tray.
In the nonprofit context we define strategy as “a coordinated set of actions aimed at creating and sustaining a competitive advantage in carrying out the mission.” Strategy is built upon the organization’s business model, market awareness, and competitive advantage.
We use the term “competitive” to highlight the fact that organizations compete for resources, whether consciously or not. The reality is that resources are scarce, and organizations compete for them. This is not the “cut-throat” competition that often characterizes the business sector. It is competition to advance the organization’s mission on behalf of those it serves.
We refer to this as “ethical competition” because it’s all about advancing the mission. We also note that the reality of competition in the nonprofit sector does not override the need for, and value of, collaboration. Both are important, and often may be used between the same organizations.
A strategy can be enduring, but needs to change when it is no longer the best way to advance the mission. Therefore it is important to constantly monitor the environment and the strategy’s effectiveness.
Real-Time Strategic Planning
The focus of traditional strategic planning is to produce a formal written document, within a preset time frame, that will “endure” for a predetermined length of time (usually three years), and cover a predetermined list of areas with very specific (and often distant) goals and objectives. This focus is just not compatible with the formation of effective strategy in a nonprofit functioning in the rapid-response real world of today.
To address this problem, Vista Global uses a research-tested methodology – Real-Time Strategic Planning that engages participants, addresses the “Big Questions” facing the organization, and creates an atmosphere where ongoing strategic thinking and action can flourish. Our clients report that this is much better than the traditional approach they have used in the past, which often results in a written document that sits on a shelf gathering dust.
Contact us today to kick-off your organization’s strategy development!