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Guide to writing a Strategic Plan


Step One – Getting Ready

An organization that determines it is indeed ready to begin strategic planning must perform five tasks to pave the way for an organized process:

  • clarify roles (who does what in the process)
  • develop an organizational profile
  • identify the information that must be collected to help make sound decisions

Step Two – Articulating Vision & Mission

  • A Vision Statement outlines what the organization wants to be. It concentrates on the future. It is a source of inspiration. It provides clear decision-making criteria. Vision Statements define the organizations purpose, in terms of the organization’s values rather than bottom line measures (values are guiding beliefs about how things should be done.) The vision statement communicates both the purpose and values of the organization. For employees, it gives direction about how they are expected to behave and inspires them to give their best. Shared with customers, it shapes customers’ understanding of why they should work with the organization.
  • A Mission Statement tells you the fundamental purpose of the organization. It concentrates on the present. It defines the customer and the critical processes. It informs you of the desired level of performance. A Mission Statement defines the organization’s purpose and primary objectives. Its prime function is internal – to define the key measure or measures of the organization’s success – and its prime audience is the leadership team and shareholders.


Step Three – Assessing the Situation

Once an organization has committed to why it exists and what it does, it must take a clear-eyed look at its current situation.

Remember, that part of strategic planning, thinking, and management is an awareness of resources and an eye to the future environment, so that an organization can successfully respond to changes in the environment.

Situation assessment, therefore, means obtaining current information about the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, and performance – information that will highlight the critical issues that the organization faces and that its strategic plan must address.

These could include a variety of primary concerns, such as funding issues, new program opportunities, changing regulations or changing needs in the client population, and so on. The point is to choose the most important issues to address.

The Planning Committee should agree on no more than five to ten critical issues around which to organize the strategic plan.

Step Four – Developing Strategies, Goals, and Objectives

Once an organization’s mission has been affirmed and its critical issues identified, it is time to figure out what to do about them: the broad approaches to be taken (strategies), and the general and specific results to be sought (the goals and objectives).

Strategies, goals, and objectives may come from individual inspiration, group discussion, formal decision-making techniques, and so on.

Step Five – Completing the Written Plan

The vision and mission has been articulated, the critical issues identified, and the goals and strategies agreed upon. This step essentially involves putting all that down on paper!