Too many professional associations function without a strategic plan. And whether they know it or not, they suffer major consequences. Without strategic planning, an organization lurches from priority to priority, depending on who has the loudest voice at the Board table; volunteers are frustrated, and critical goals go unmet.
If you ask these groups why they don’t have a formal plan, the answer is almost always the same, “it’s too hard to create one.” It doesn’t have to be. There are some very simple strategic planning methodologies that professional associations can follow. One that I like a lot is outlined in a book, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm. Verne Harnish maps a one-page, strategic planning process that any organization can adopt. (It’s a bit like the 6-minute abs workout video in Something About Mary—you’re not going to find one any shorter.)
Whether yours is a one-page document or a 40-page tome, effective strategic plans have a few things in common:
- They identify key goals on a broader horizon (typically a three-year timeframe).
- They outline key iterative steps toward those goals.
- They define key metrics.
Think about the simplicity of these items. Put another way, your strategic plan is asking, “where are we going? How do we get there? And how do we know when we’ve arrived?”
I can’t imagine going on a trip without the answers to those three questions. And you shouldn’t let your professional association take a journey without them either.