Strategic Planning Doesn't Have to Be Painful!

I often hear from boards and from management staff that they don’t have time or energy for strategy.

The standard story seems to go something like this…

We’ll sit in a room for days talking about really heady theoretical ideas and by the end of it we’ll have a long document that talks about all the things we would like to do but can’t. This will sit on a shelf (or now more likely it will remain hidden in a file on someone’s computer) until we decide we need to meet again in a room and talk about all the same stuff again.


Sound familiar?

While many of us have experienced this exact story, my suspicion is that most have also experienced the opposite…we just don’t recognize it because it wasn’t done in a conference room with the pressure of “doing strategic planning”.

Have you ever had something you really wanted? Maybe it was a new bike when you were 12…maybe it was a trip to a foreign country…perhaps the wedding of your dreams…or a new house…or….

If you thought about this “want” in more than just a passing way and actually visualized and strategized for how you might get it…you’ve done strategic planning.

AND if you then took a few steps and either continued with your original plan or changed your tactics you’ve done implementation and monitoring.

The weird thing about doing this in a formal context is that we forget what we all do as humans on a daily basis. We figure out what’s important enough to focus on and then start to come up with ways to get it. We try some things and then we tweak plans as needed. Guess what…that’s strategic planning.

Doing it in a business context just means you need to figure it out as a group and agree on both the goal and the steps to get there.


So. With that in mind... 

Here’s a way to start:

  1. At your next board meeting, choose one thing (only one) that would make a difference to the results of your organization.

  2. Figure out what is happening now and compare it to what it will look like when you accomplish this goal

  3. Then write the steps in between.

  4. Decide who will do it and when. (Make sure they have the knowledge, support, and resources available to actually accomplish this.)

  5. Add the dates to your calendar so you can check back. This piece is critical – if you never check back, it’s not planning, it’s dreaming.


Bingo! You’re doing Strategic Planning!

Keep practicing this.

It’s even more powerful if you take the time to envision a larger plan because when you combine a bunch of individual pieces they start to interact strategically.

But the important part?

Plan it…do it… tweak it…repeat…

Depending on your goals, eventually, this will result in a great new bike or an organization that serves people (and maybe even changes the world!).