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