Being Serious About Strategy Can Also Be Relaxed
I developed a draft strategy process for one of the associations that I manage the other day. It didn't take me very long, and it's fairly loosely defined. We have five Board meetings next year, and I suggested a specific focus for a "strategic conversation" at each of those meetings. One is more budget focused, one is on external trends, one is on member needs, etc. I'll work with them to make sure work is done between the meetings as well.
This is a far cry from some of the strategy work I've done in the past, where we helped create separate task forces to design the process and facilitated two-day scenario planning sessions. Of course those were bigger organizations with bigger budgets and staffs.
But just because this new strategy process is low-key doesn't mean it's not serious. I evaluated where we were in terms of strategic capacity and designed a (simple) process that would increase capacity based on my "four words" of strategy:
Understand. We have been weak in responding both internally to member needs and externally to economic trends. The shift in the economy didn't bring a quick enough shift in programming. So we need to make sure we have better conversations sooner about these things. That's now added to our process.
Choose. Our choices were really only made when we put together the budget, fairly late in the year. I added a focus on choice at the July meeting with some time to clarify the overall strategic direction.
Do. I didn't add much in this area, but part of the strategy work will be to increase communication across committees about activities as they get done, to combat the silo mentality. Committees need to change some of their implementation patterns to support the broader strategy work.
Learn. One of the Board meetings is now specifically focused on learning from what we did the year before. Not just reporting. Learning.
None of this is rocket science, but all of it is going to happen. And that makes it more valuable–to this organization–than rocket science.