Let’s talk strategy.
We know our share of visionaries who lead big associations. We also know several Association Executives who come from small associations, but who have big ideas around how to make their vision come alive.
Lately I’ve seen several strategic plans that are actually operations plans with the title “Strategic Plan”. They aren’t strategic at all. As you launch into your next strategic plan cycle, there are three key ways to verify that you’re being strategic.
1. What will your organization BE 10+ years out if you do EVERYTHING right along the way?
Make sure you know what a vision is, and that your team agrees on a bold, aspirational one. Annual planning and long-term planning are very different processes. One big differentiator is agreeing on your vision for the future so you can aim towards it.
2. “Oh, we could NEVER do that!”
A strategic plan solves the biggest issues facing your association, either on the inside or from external sources. Goals may seem impossible to achieve at first, but if the outcome is a priority, you’ll find a way to create a plan to chip away at it. Begin by prioritizing the biggest issues you face, and then having honest conversations about them.
3. Strategic goals are ALWAYS action-based.
Goals begin with what you are going to do. They begin with a verb. There are no goals called “advocacy” or “education” or “communications”. To clear up any confusion, here are six visionary strategic goals from small associations we’ve worked with, with membership sizes that range from 250 to 2500. No matter what the size of your organization, strategic goals help you bring the future into a clearer view.
Strategy is not spooky at all. If you’re not quite sure your strategic plan is actually strategic, here are eight reasons to re-think your approach.