How our strategic planning process paid off

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This September, the Vantage Point board of directors unanimously approved our 2015-2017 strategic plan and 2015 operational plan with incredible ease.  It hasn’t always been that way! The relatively brief approval process this year was due to greater alignment between the board and staff thanks to a robust strategic planning process we engaged in between May and July.    

That alignment was the most significant indicator (so far!) of the value we have gained from the time and effort we invested in our planning process. 

One of the key things we learned from this process is the importance of everyone understanding what the outcome will be.  The Vantage Point strategic planning framework has the board lead the creation or refinement of vision, mission, success, and high-level directives with input from key staff.  From there, the Executive Director and staff take the high-level directives to create the goals and activities of the annual operational plan and the indicators to measure achievement of those goals. For a strategic plan to remain relevant and alive it is important to have specific outcomes, responsibilities, and measurements.  

This process was also extremely valuable in creating an opportunity for both new and experienced board members to gain an in-depth understanding of the organization and its history.  New members asked insightful questions and our long term staff and board members helped us understand how the organization had developed to this point. 

In our case, the output in terms of content and alignment were well worth the time spent. And yet, we realize not all boards will be able to devote three or four days to this process as we did.  This raised questions for us as an organization.  How often should an organization go through the full strategic planning process?  What are the implications of breaking it down into smaller processes to allow organizations to do only what they require immediately?  Is there a way to reduce the time that the board is required to meet?  Can we use virtual collaboration tools to allow idea sharing between meetings?  How do we adapt the process for a working board with no staff to lead implementation? All of these questions are par for the course in this learning organization; as we do something, learn from it, and adapt what we are doing to accommodate our learning.  

We are really excited about the work we’ve done to lay the groundwork for the next few years. We look forward to sharing the results with you in the near future.

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