October 29, 2018

Do You Have Strategic Pain or Strategic Plan?

A new customer’s sent me a copy of their strategic plan.

When I got it, I laughed out loud. The reference line said, “Strategic Pain.”

Was this a typo, an autocorrect, a Freudian slip, or a secret in-house name?

Let’s face it, for many organizations creating a strategic plan is a pain. Perhaps they worked hard constructing a beautiful document that full of bromides like, “to be the best.” Maybe, the environment around them drastically changed so the approach they developed has grown stale. Alternatively, they have so many opportunities and obligations, that investing energy to design a strategy seems less critical than just drinking from the firehose.

If you don’t have a strategy that you use daily, you’re missing out on a significant management tool. Strategies simplify decision-making, reduce conflicts, align efforts, and shorten runways. They shrink the distance and energy required between now and reaching your goals.

Do you have an effective strategy?

Answer these five-statements. Count the assertions with which you agree.

  1. You can tell outsiders the overall gist of how you will win in 240 characters or less.
  2. Every time you meet, your board and staff reflect on the strategy as they resolve issues.
  3. While obtaining adequate resources remain a challenge, you have a clear understanding of how to obtain the funds you need.
  4. In the commotion of operating your nonprofit, you know you’re solving today’s challenges and building a better future.
  5. Instead of hashing over big ideas about what to do next, your staff, volunteers, and board grapple with the best option to achieve strategic goals.

How did you do? If you answered yes to the whole list, you have an effective strategy. If you scored less than 100 percent, you may have strategic pain instead of a plan. Check out what makes Karen’s strategic planning process different.

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Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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