how strategic planning can energize teams, build trust and better business

if strategic planning is something to be endured then you are missing THE opportunity to build a performance mindset IN YOUR TEAM 

When a new Board is formed and start asking questions about operational matters, it can be a red flag for the Executive Team. The golden rule is Boards don’t get involved in operations. But as a volunteer Board Director myself and having helped many Boards in the NFP and business community to develop five year plans, realistically Boards do need to have a solid (and detailed) grasp of the organisation they are leading.  Otherwise, how do they know how to assist? What good looks like? What the challenges are likely to be? 

The only way to get this insight is to ask questions, and a strategic planning process is the perfect time to do this. But what about Board meetings, you might ask if you are that CEO. The papers? There's time to discuss the content at meetings, right? Well not always. The main order of business for Board Directors is compliance, risk, auditing, catching up on progress and CEO reports. There's rarely time to take a breath and reflect on strategic direction and monitoring, especially on volunteer Boards.

Our strategic planning process is simple and uncovers a lot of value and excitement as Boards can feel for the first time engaged and involved in charting a course for an organisation, who's mission and purpose is close to their hearts. If staff are involved, it is a chance for them to reflect, engage, raise issues and get excited about the future.

Here's CVC's general approach:

1. Decide who needs to be involved

If a Board is newly formed, or Directors don't have a background in the sector, we advocate for Executive teams to be involved in strategy planning. Directors bring a skillset but may still be learning sector specific processes and conventions. Having Executive input with their operational expertise can help fill in gaps and answer questions that arise. We facilitate diverse groups and advocate for dynamic conversations.

2. Governance and decision making

In situations where there's a divide between the Board and operations, or even just a lot of noise and busy-ness, setting up a working group can help people to focus, engage, form better relationships and filter out any external noises that can come up.  Many Board members have excellent skills and are happy to put them to work.

3. Analysis and reflection

A lot of strategy can look like ideas plucked out of thin air. This is not a good thing. By understanding what's happening in the market, ideas should address challenges and threats and create opportunity and competitive advantages (YES, even not for profits need to compete for funding, skilled staff and referrals). We work with data in a number of ways.  We do market analysis and talk to stakeholders. We do a number of things with staff to encourage input, engagement and reflection such as surveys, workshops, roundtables and we also spend time looking into trends, policy and understanding issues, trends and potential impacts at the local level.

4. Planning with and for real people

The big day. We hold in person forums as they are often the first time Board and/or the Executive team have been together, especially for regionally dispersed or national organisations.  Team dynamics are a big part of a successful planning day and we carefully consider this. The planning day is all about looking forward, idea generation and discussion. We facilitate using ground rules to keep people engaged, on track and to encourage healthy rigour in discussion. We cover topics such as; target markets, services, growth strategy, the competitive environment, the legal, social, technological and political influences on the business, revisiting Vision statements and behaviors to stop, start and continue. 

5. Design a dashboard for better tracking of KPIs

Strategies are high level, but need enough detail to guide the operations staff to develop actions and tactics to achieve results... or KPIs. A big bug bear of Boards is what does the 'dashboard' look like that will show us we are on track? What will be on that dashboard so we know, at quick glance, if the organisation is on track?  When we summarise the key areas and activities to be implemented, we also have a have a final conversation at the Board level about what will be measured, what good looks like, as ultimately this is what gets managed.

CVC's approach to strategic planning is inclusive, consultative, responsive and rigorous, resulting in a clear direction for the Board and management teams. If you're considering your next strategic planning phase, we'd love to work with you. 

Contact us, we'd be happy to discuss an approach to your situation.

Contact us, call Susan Lee

0466 090 600