Can You Can Get There from Here? 3 Good Planning Elements

Planning is one of the many overused but little-understood terms tossed around nonprofit organizations. Recently, several consultants were organizing an audio conference for nonprofit board members on the topic. We started by defining planning. Fifteen minutes later, we had also uncovered more questions than we had answers. If it took three experts fifteen minutes to begin to define planning —you will undoubtedly find some uncertainty in your organization.

You plan every day. After all, you make a plan when you run out of paper and draft a sticky note to stick on your key to remind you to order some after your meeting. You plan for events, vacations, and holidays. You outline how exactly you will improve transportation service for seniors. You design your evening.

For starters, here is a definition: planning consists of tasks, energy, and resources applied to create the desired future. Smart plans include three components:

  1. Identifying where you want to go; this is your vision

  2. Ascertaining where you are now or your starting point, and

  3. What bridge you will build to link these two points together.

These three components are universal to all planning. The segments show up in your smallest efforts, including where we should hold our special event and your big questions, such as the most effective way to cure cancer?

When you plan, all three areas require your attention. Which component do you find most comfortable? Most challenging?  Most people tell me that building the bridge is tough, but lack of a clear vision and a muddled starting place crumble excellent bridge designs.

Your challenge: Pick one project. Can you clearly describe where you want to go? Good enough to enter an address?

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