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Not all that many nonprofits engage in formal strategic planning. To the extent that they do, it’s commonly seen as a costly and tedious process, using incomprehensible jargon and yielding thick reports that no one reads in their entirety, let alone actually uses. Given these presumptions, there is little surprise that there is often very little enthusiasm for the effort. But strategic planning does not have to be tedious and futile…

The First Aim

A well-developed plan can be enormously helpful to both board and staff and the process itself quite engaging and even motivating. In essence, all strategic planning is simply this: a guided, deliberate discussion among people who care about something, eventually culminating in a shared picture of a preferred future for that about which they care. That is the first aim – a vision of a preferred future and a declaration of mission pursuing that vision.

The Second Aim

Strategic planning is ultimately about drawing up a set of directions that describe a way of getting to that preferred future…but in order to do that, an organization needs to have a clear idea about where it is currently. Such a thorough understanding of the present situation is the second aim. It is usually embodied in a report called an “assessment of current conditions,” which provides observation and analysis of the organization from all relevant angles – 360 degrees.

The Third Aim

Finally there is the strategic plan itself – the map, as it were, that marks the path from where the organization is at present to where it wants to be in the future. That is the third aim of a thorough strategic planning process. Building upon statements of mission and vision, it provides a set of directions in the form of goals, objectives, and tactics.

The End Product

OD180 does not simply facilitate a few discussion sessions, throw together a few notes, and then leave you to your own devices. David works with board and staff until the plan document is complete and the board has adopted it.