Answers to Common Questions and nSight’s Approach to the Strategic Planning Process
1. Experience in facilitating the strategic planning process
Melynn blends 25 years in corporate marketing in Fortune 100 companies with 15 years of an approach tailored to the association industry. Our process scales to fit any size organization: national, state and local. We help leaders focus on corporate (organizational) strategy first, in order to allocate precious resources to the right tactics. Melynn’s experience helps associations overcome the biggest internal and external issues to move towards a big, bold vision for the future.
2. Melynn’s approach to facilitation
We believe it takes four interconnected values to make positive change: Brains, Heart, Guts and Energy. Melynn applies these values when working with organizations who invest time to plan for their best future. She will encourage a realistic and courageous conversation about today’s reality and also tomorrow’s possibilities. She urges healthy, respectable debate to get to the real issues facing the association. She will help the group come to the right ‘big’ decisions for your situation.
3. Approach to the strategic planning process and strategic thinking
We begin the planning process unifying your team on who you want to be. Your long range vision is key to developing the best possible strategy. We then challenge our association executives to identify the association, the community and the industry’s most relevant issues, with the member at the center of the conversation. All discussions revolve around how the association ultimately adds or delivers the most relevant value to the member. Our goal is to choose the right big goals, so you can develop the best course of action to show value to the member in a way that makes the association indispensable to the member. Throughout the process, we keep the focus on helping isolate the biggest issues.
4. Key elements of the planning process
There are four key components to our strategy and work best together:
- Research (from many stakeholder groups): could be a combination of focus groups, surveys, questionnaires, interviews
- A purposeful review of the prior plan to establish the current state and what needs more attention
- Live on-site planning workshop, over days or spread out over a year
- Documented plan with specific milestones and measurements
5. Pre-work for a strategy session
We ask every invited guest to complete an important questionnaire prior to the workshop. This is critical input to the session. The first goal is establishing a market scan for conversations at the workshop. The second goal is to urge the attendees to think about the association purposefully as a leadership team in advance of the strategy meeting.
After contract signing, Melynn conferences with the Executive Officer and President (if applicable) to discuss details, history, logistics and any lessons learned from previous planning meetings.
6. Benchmarks and performance measures in the plan.
The plan is laid out to present your:
- Responsible parties to accomplish the plan
We’ll discuss if you prefer your strategy group to develop the initial recommended activities.
Melynn will also give practical ideas during the session for keeping the plan alive, on track and moving forward with the responsible parties actively involved.
7. Timeframe for the plan
Once you determine the most significant, adaptive issues or new initiatives that require your attention, you will likely realize it will take more than one person, one department and one year to accomplish them. In fact, strategic plans are most frequently three year plans. It’ shard to plan for longer than three years out, but that timeframe allow for the proper discovery for the goal to succeed.
We often only outline year one milestones and activities, since the next steps are dependent on this groundwork.
8. Staying focused to your agreed to goals
Your strategic goals should not change during the three-year cycle. However, the methods to reach the goals may change as new information and challenges arise, and it’s possible that goals may take a different ‘angle’ after some time doing the initial stages of planning. Also, when you’re focused on a particular area, new information will likely surface in twelve months.
We recommend at minimum quarterly updates so that the board can stay updated on the progress of the plan. Then, use a full board meeting after twelve months to review the goals, progress, and develop year two milestones to keep the plan moving in a positive direction. A new emergency initiative does not replace a strategic goal.
Many associations formalize this once-a-year look back and look forward and have Melynn come in (or join via webinar) to facilitate the session.