Learning patterns/Recipe for a strategic plan
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What is this learning pattern about?
Having a long term guide for your project, group, or organization can help you better understand your current context and move toward your vision for the future as you develop specific plans each year. Your strategic plan can also serve as a benchmark, year over year, for understanding how you are working toward your goals and how your organization may be changing. Sometimes a well done strategic plan can offer answers to difficult questions that come up for your organization on a day-to-day or on an annual basis.
At the same, many examples of strategic plans and different approaches to strategy exist in our movement, so making a plan for the first time can seem overwhelming. What should be included in your plan? Who should be involved with making the plan? How should you use it?
Making a strategic plan takes effort and commitment. There is no solution that will make strategic planning "easy", but the process can be enlightening and fun for you and your stakeholders. Having a few guidelines and examples is a good place to start!
What might you include in your strategic plan?
While staff and key volunteers may have a role in coordinating a strategic planning process and offering input, strategic planning will be driven by your board or governing body. There is no "one size fits all" to strategic plan, but these are some suggestions that can get you started.
Your strategic plan might be made up of these main components.
- Analysis of what's happening currently
- Description of your long term goals
- Explanation of how you will reach these goals
What's happening currently
You can use a variety of research methods to describe what is currently happening. Some of these methods can also be used to consult stakeholders about their priorities in terms of future plans.
- Data from a survey of contributors
- Data from a reader survey
- Structured interviews with key people in your communities or your organization
- Case studies
- Mission or values statements
- SWOT analysis
Determining your long term goals
- What makes you unique? What are your greatest strengths?
- What do you want to achieve in the long term?
How you will reach these goals
- Strategic objectives
- A method for assessing your progress toward the goals