Why does strategic planning matter in a successful organization?

What’s in a plan, and so what anyway? Part of my work is to de-mystify the parts of a strategic plan — each element reflecting an important set of questions that come from both governance and management perspectives.

Let’s start with a working definition of strategy: An organized set of actions toward defined results. That assumes you have defined the results you want to achieve – a rare opportunity in the month-to-month drumbeat of board meetings and staff work. So, strategic planning is a set of exercises and activities that result in deliverables (meaning, usually, a written plan) capturing and guiding your work…with the longer term vision in mind.
Fundamental Questions of Existence
• Why are we here? (Organizational Mission)
• Where do we want to go? (Vision)
• How will we get there? (Strategies)‏
• Who and When? (Implementation)

A Strategic Plan is About:
• Assessing where you are now
• Imagining choices the organization can make
• Stating Intention and Hope about the future
• Rare opportunity to step back
• What strategies (implicit or explicit) are being employed now? Why did we choose those strategies?
• What alternative choices are available?
• What decisions do we need and want to make?

Common Parts of Strategic Planning Processes
• Development or review of organizational building blocks (Mission, Vision for the “world”, Core Values/Beliefs)
• Assessment of the current situation (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats)‏
• Surveys, interviews, or other information gathering
• Description of desired future for the organization (Organizational Vision – what it will look like)
• Sorting/selecting strategies/Strategic Directions
• Stating desired results (Goals, Objectives)
• Implementation: Planning action steps
• Evaluation: Measurement and tracking
• Revisiting the plan, planning for the next year
• Updating of the longer-term vision, assessment of new strategies and desired results