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Strategic planning – find your path to social enterprise success

By January 29, 2016Uncategorized

It’s January – that fresh beginning to the new calendar year – and for many organizations, it’s also time to start up their strategic planning processes. Strategic planning can be incredibly powerful and catalyzing for social impact organizations and nonprofits – or it can be a chore that you endure.

We don’t want that second option. We want strategic planning to help you find a path to social enterprise success. If you want that for your organization, we’d be thrilled to help you out. We’ve got some tips and tricks we love to share about strategic planning, and I want to share some here.

Strategic planning doesn’t have to be a chore for social enterprises and nonprofits

For organizations that work to build a better world, strategic planning shouldn’t be a chore that you endure. It shouldn’t be a series of endless meetings that results in a plan that gets printed and put onto a bookshelf. If those things sound familiar to you, or if the term “strategic planning” evokes memories like that in your mind, then your organization needs to get some help for its planning process. Get in touch.

Here’s why and how you can make strategic planning something to celebrate as a social enterprise or nonprofit:

  • Strategic planning is a good reason to celebrate past success and think about how you can extend them to the future.

One of the first phases of your strategic planning process should be a celebration of the successes you’ve had over the course of your previous strategic plan. If you don’t have a previous strategic plan, you should celebrate the success you’ve created in the past year.

Bring your stakeholders together as part of the planning process, and have them share the things that they’re proud you managed to accomplish. This process will give you a good basis for planning forward – you get to think about how to multiply your impact in the future!

  • Strategic planning is also a good time to own up to mistakes and plan a way to do better.

Obviously, the process isn’t just about celebrating successes. Over the course of your previous strategic plan, you’ll have made some mistakes. This is a good time to own up to them – and plan ways to go forward in a better way. Don’t make it a funeral – make it a wake! Celebrate your mistakes in the same way you celebrate your successes.

Strategic planning should help your organization revitalize its mission and vision

When you’re going through your strategic planning process, make sure you connect back to your organization’s mission and vision as a large part of the work. That mission and vision should form the basis of your strategic plan – so make sure it still makes your heart sing.

  • Your vision is what you want the world to be like after your organization has made its impact.

Your vision should be audacious. It should be a changed world. This is something that should resonate with your social enterprise core values and your core purpose. Check in with your board, your staff, and your stakeholders, and make sure that the vision is something that is still a changed world – and that your organization’s work in changing the world is central to what you want to do.

  • Your organization’s mission is how you plan to make that change – in broad strokes.

Revisit your organization’s mission statement. It should still inspire you to jump up and get started – right now. It should take your vision and directly operationalize it – put action into words in broad strokes.

If your mission doesn’t make you want to start changing the world, right now, then you need to fine-tune it to inspire that desire to change.

Your strategic plan should have clear goals that are designed to help your organization put its mission into practice to accomplish its vision.

If your vision is your organization’s idea of a changed world, after you’ve made an impact, and your mission is the broad strokes of how you want to make that vision real, then your strategic plan is a list of goals you have for the next year, two years, or three years to get you closer to that better world.

  • These goals are crucial for your social enterprise or nonprofit. Make sure they’re strategic, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time oriented.

“SMART” goals help you bridge that gap between an idea of a changed world and the mission you’ve built into your social enterprise or nonprofit. Because you’ve got values and purpose built into the core of your organization, you’re ready to get out there and make a difference. A strategic plan – with measurable and clear goals – helps you be smart about making that difference, without running in circles or going down different paths and getting lost.

  • Your strategic plan should help you decide which path to take when you’ve got crucial or time-sensitive decisions to make.

As a social enterprise, your’e going to be constantly faced with critical decisions that you’ll need to make in super short-term time frames. Your strategic plan should enable you to evaluate these decision points, and give you the presence of mind – through forethought – to make the decision you need to make.

You don’t want to be facing critical decisions without any idea of where to go. Your pre-work in strategic planning should make finding answers to these kind of questions easier, because you’re identifying the key things that you need to keep in mind when you’re making the decisions.

What you don’t want is to be making decisions in a vacuum. Your strategic plan should give you indications of what measurable things to have in mind when you’re making strategic decisions. You should be able to pull out your strat plan and point to the path you need to take – rather than be confused or paralysed by the question.

If you want to craft a strategic plan that gives you those super-powers, get in touch We’ll help you build one.

About Kevin Harding

Kevin Harding is a principal of the Incipe Cooperative, and is a volunteer board member of the Art for Impact Society. He has worked in the nonprofit, public, and cooperative sector for some time, and has a passion for working with coops, nonprofits, and advocacy groups that want to make a better world. A coop developer, he strongly believes that cooperatives can build a better world.

One Comment

  • […] Once you’ve built out your social enterprise or impact organization’s strategic plan, you’re faced with the challenge of figuring out which of your tasks are the most immediately impactful and that you can get out and start working on. The idea of picking some goals off of your strategic plan and running with them is exciting – exhilarating even! – but it can be super, super tough. Which opportunities do you run with first? Which ones will allow you to demonstrate impact, quickly? […]

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