“Be strategic”    “You have to have a plan”      “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”

Strategic Planning 101-Part One:

I am sure you’ve heard these sayings and more related to strategic planning. I bet they’ve prompted you to wonder, why is so much emphasis placed on strategic planning? The best analogy is found when thinking about the great American pastime that many enjoyed this summer:  The road trip!

Failing to have a strategic plan is like embarking on a road trip without consulting Google Maps or the good ol’ Thomas Guide to devise a route for getting to your destination. From information found scouring Google Maps, you can avoid freeways that are congested, anticipate toll roads or find the historic tepee hotel on Route 66 — critical pieces of intel for arriving at your destination on time and well-rested.

Details about your route help you to define a strategy, which is at the core of a strategic plan. Strategy is the coordinated measures and approach taken to reach a destination, goal or intended outcome; the plan is how the approach will be implemented. The best strategy is guided by up-to-date information found by scanning your environment. Equally important is understanding and leveraging the unique value your organization offers and its connection to your competitors and customers.

So, before you stop at Chevron, take some time to map out your route. Don’t passively wish for that next unrestricted grant from the Ford Foundation or million dollar contract, take some time to devise a strategy for how to get there.

Sold? Want more on strategic planning? Stay tuned for Strategic Planning 101-Part Two, featuring wisdom from the Center for Nonprofit Management.