Monday, December 10, 2012

What Does a Great Strategy Report Look Like?

I am often asked about what a good strategy report looks like – the kind you would submit to your Board and then use to guide your organization for the coming years.

I have seen this done well by a number of organizations, and done poorly by even more.  But, recently I had a chance to work with a group – Health Care for the Homeless in Baltimore – which I think has done an excellent job at this.  They have made it public so you can check it out here.

One of the great things about this report is that I, as their consultant, didn’t write it.  When Kevin Lindamood, their CEO, held a conference call with the strategy committee who had been working on the process to review the report, one Board member asked “Who wrote this?”  This is a particularly hard-nosed Board member.  So, I held my breath after Kevin said “I did.”  The Board member said “Well . . . I’ll just say that I have seen many, many strategy reports from nonprofits over the years . . . and this is the best one I have ever seen.”  Exhale.

Certainly, I collaborated with Kevin on the report.  But it was his words, his perspective that captured the work that the strategy planning group had done for a few months.

If I was you, I would be asking “So what?”  Who cares if it was a good “report?”  Great question.

I am teaching a Nonprofit Strategy course to graduate students at the University of Maryland this term and I tell the students that the test of a good strategy is that it actually informs reality – implementation.  I submit that because Kevin wrote the final report, and owned it, that it gave the organization a better chance of actually implementing it.

So, last week we had Kevin in as a guest speaker to the class.  And guess what?  The strategy his Board approved back in July is actually rolling along in the implementation phase.  It’s not easy.  None of this “making a difference” stuff is easy.  But the vision, goals, and strategy they set are guiding them as they lay out their annual operational plan and work to serve the homeless of Baltimore even more effectively.  Staff work groups are being formed around each goal and they are engaged in making their vision and goals a reality.  Now that’s a great strategy report.

Do you have a strategy that is actually guiding your performance to make even more of a Mission Impact?  A consultant can facilitate your process, but don’t let a consultant write your strategy – it’s yours.  

For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.