Any organization, business or individual, who desires to maximize his potential, and to plan effectively both for the present and the future, should go and prioritize strategic planning. This means considering not only how to react, but planning how to act, not simply going from crisis to crisis, but evaluating in advance, and learning how to prioritize one's actions based on needs and degree of importance and relevance. Many organizations claim to do strategic planning, because at one time or another, they created a committee or panel to evaluate needs and strategy. Effective strategic planning is a continuous and ongoing process, and requires both commitment and vision. When I refer to the ABCDE of strategic planning, I am referring to: analysis and assessment; best way and because; caring and then creating; deciding to deliver; and evaluating to achieve excellence.
1. Because we do not live in a static society, sustainability often requires remaining relevant, by evolving on a preliminary, ongoing basis. Groups must truly examine their identities and purposes, in order to assess needs currently, and in the near term and longer term future.
2. This means that an organization must find the best way or best methods of achieving their goals, and meeting their needs. They must take an honest look at themselves, to understand the because of membership (in other words, why would someone want to belong or be associated with the group). What purpose or direction or combination of items, does the organization serve that is either not served or undeserved elsewhere?
3. Why should someone care about the organization? What does the organization care about; what are its values or ethics? Are these concerns relevant and significant to others? Based on what the group cares about, what does it do, or in other words what programs, visions, goals, and actions has it created?
4. It is never enough to just have goals, address needs, and to talk about them. Talk may at times be soothing, but until an organization actually makes the conscious decision to deliver on its goals and promises, no one will take the group seriously. Organizations are judged and attract attention, not by the loftiness of its rhetoric, but rather by whether or not it takes steps to deliver on its promises.
5. Part of the strategic planning process must be to do things better, and never settle for being less than it can be. This means that the process must also be evaluative, in order to come up with an approach that will emphasize excellence and achievement.
In over thirty years of organizational and leadership consulting, I have been involved in developing and implementing close to a hundred strategic plans. While strategic planning is important, it must be viewed as far more than just a process, but rather a methodology, on an ongoing basis, of assuring not merely survival, but maximum performance from an organization.