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A BASIC GUIDE TO CREATING A STRATEGIC PLAN

Section Questions / Issues to Be Addressed in Each Section
Organizational Context 1. Overview.

Why is strategic planning (SP) needed? What is the historical context of the organization, department or unit (e.g., have there been recent organizational changes)? Why do SP now? What is the time period this plan covers (i.e., how far out is the horizon)?

2. The Organization.

Define terms, explain relationships, give position titles or names, etc. (Do this to make the document understandable to all those who will be reading it, whether inside or outside of the organization – this also allows you to use abbreviations later in the document.) It’s possible that just including an organization chart (here or as an appendix) will accomplish this.

3. Value Commitments.

What are the value-commitments that will guide the SP process? What are the values that will constrain the strategic plan itself? Who are the stakeholders (e.g., donors or Board of Directors) whose mandate you are trying to fulfil? What is their mandate?

4. Vision & Mission.

Why does the organization / department / program /unit exist? What is / has been its purpose? Is this remaining the same, or is it changing (and if so, how)?

Preparation / Planning 5. Management Team.

Who was involved in the SP process? Why were they involved? What did each person contribute?

6. Planning Factors.

Were there certain dynamics or factors known up front that set limits on what could and could not be done? Are there certain aspects of or elements in the organization’s culture that will make SP easier or more difficult?

Current Reality 7. Environmental Scan.

What’s going on outside the organization? What’s going on outside the department / program / unit? What trends are impacting the organization and demanding that something different be done? What significant drivers / trends are affecting the organization? What will be the pain or cost of not being strategic?

8. SWOT Analysis.

What are (internal) strengths and weaknesses of the organization, department, program or unit? What are (external) opportunities and threats?

9. Organizational Performance.

What activities are currently being implemented? What are desired performance targets or results? Include key metrics used to measure actual and desired performance. (By ‘performance,’ we do not mean how well an individual is doing his or her job, but how well the entire work group or department has done relative to program targets or objectives.)

10. Gap Analysis.

How do the actual results being obtained from current activities compare to desired results? (i.e., what are the successes, and where are we falling short?)

New Priorities 11. Strategic Profile.

Based on what we know of where the world and the larger organization are going, what will the future look like, (and how will it be significantly different from what we are doing now)? What are the strategic thrusts that have been given for the organization as a whole (with which our department or program initiatives must be in alignment)?

12. Future Vision.

What is our vision for the future? To the extent that we can create the future we want, what will that look like for the department, program or unit? What is compelling about this future vision?

Action Plan 13. Strategic Initiatives.

What are we doing well that we need to continue doing and focus on even more? What are we not doing that we need to start doing? What do we need to stop doing, or do less of? What will we do to close the gaps between what we are doing now and where we want to be in the future? (Overview – list 3 to 8 key initiatives that will be taken.) Why are these initiatives strategic, as opposed to merely tactical or operational?

14. Initiative 1, 2, 3, . . . .

How will each initiative be implemented (in more detail)? Who will do what, by when, with what results? What resources will be needed? What is the goal (desired outcome) for each initiative?

15. Application Considerations.

How will all these initiatives be implemented in relation to each other and to everything else going on? What are the synergies among them? What are potential resource conflicts between the initiatives, and how will these conflicts be managed? (If appropriate, include a high-level budget for all initiatives.)

Contingencies 16. Contingencies.

What could threaten the successful implementation of the above plans? How likely are those events to occur? Which events would be most harmful if they did occur? Explain what will be done in case the most likely and most harmful events do in fact occur.

Summary 17. Summary.

Restate why implementing the strategic plan is critical to achieving the vision for the organization. Reassure the reader that the key people needed to carry out the plan are fully informed of the plan and are capable of carrying it out. Express confidence and commitment, while also being realistic and humble in the face of uncertainty.

 

 

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