Basics of Strategizing (during strategic planning)

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    Basics of Strategizing
    (during strategic planning)

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.
    Adapted from the Field Guide to Nonprofit Strategic Planning and Facilitation.

    This activity is usually conducted as part of the overall strategic planning.
    Therefore, the reader might best be served to first read the information in
    the topic Strategic

    Sections of This Topic Include

    Developing Strategies to Address Strategic Issues and Reach

    Suggestions to Ensure Genuine Strategic Thinking

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    Developing Strategies to Address Strategic Issues
    and Reach Goals

    One of the most frequent reasons for ineffective strategic planning
    is failure to think strategically. In these cases, planners mistake
    organizational efficiency to be organizational effectiveness.
    One of the key indicators of this problem is planners’ reluctance
    to conduct a solid strategic analysis that includes assessment
    of the external environment of the organization and feedback from
    stakeholders. As a result, planners end up looking only at what
    the organization is internally doing now and how they might do
    it a little bit better. In their planning they end up fine tuning
    what the organization is already doing, rather than shoring up
    weaknesses to avoid oncoming threats and using strengths to take
    advantage of new opportunities.

    Suggestions to Ensure Genuine Strategic Thinking

    1. Recognize strategies to be associated with, e.g., resolving
    major issues, developing new products or methods of delivery,
    servicing additional or smaller groups of customers, or mergers/collaborations
    for survival or efficiency.

    2. Strategies should focus on structural changes as much as
    possible. These changes are more likely to direct and sustain
    changes in the organization.

    3. In general, strategies deal with the question, “How
    do we position ourselves if the future changes, and if it is not
    what we expected?”

    4. Use a brainstorming technique to collect all ideas from
    planning members.

    5. During strategy development, continue to ask, “Is this
    really a strategic activity? Will it leverage change in your organization?”

    6. Reconsider strategies that have worked or haven’t in
    the past.

    7. Ensure strategies don’t conflict with each other, i.e.,
    that implementing one strategy will directly impair implementation
    of another.


    · The top issues usually produce the most complex and contentious
    strategies to deal with the issues and reach each goal. Therefore,
    meetings to identify strategies may be the most contentious.

    · To ensure effective communication, revisit what the
    term “strategic” means to the planners.

    · While facilitating the meetings, use brainstorming
    to collect all ideas and process them. Use Post-It notes to organize

    · To help refine and clarify ideas, consider asking
    “Why” five times to each idea.

    · To further explore a suggestion or an idea, ask the
    speaker if his or her statement is based on an assumption, solid
    data, and is it a conclusion?

    · Each strategy or groups of strategies might be associated
    with new or current programs.

    · Each major function should eventually have its own
    specific strategies, measurable objectives, resource needs, financial
    need specification and budgets, and plans to evaluate results.

    Return to the topic Strategic Planning.

    For the Category of Strategic Planning:

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