Monday, February 24, 2014

Strategic Plan? Oxymoron.

Strategy?  Yes.

Plans?  Yes.

Strategic Plan.  No.  Not exactly.

What organizations need is a Strategy – an overarching general explanation of how they are going to guide their performance during the coming years.  Then they need to build specific Plans to implement the Strategy.

The Strategy should be targeted toward Strategic Stretch Goals that are designed to significantly enhance the Mission Impact of the organization.  The Strategy explains, generally, how the organization will Leverage its Strengths, Fortify its Weaknesses, Seize its Opportunities, and Block its Threats as it pursues the goals.

Once the Strategy is set, then the Strategy Implementation process begins with Planning. Specific Plans are guided by the themes of the Strategy as the organization pursues the goals. Plans are detailed, but fluid.  Ideas for achieving the goals are developed and implemented.  Sometimes the ideas work, sometimes they don’t.  If they don’t work, then new plans need to be created.  As the new plans are created they continue to be informed by the Strategy.  The Strategy is constant (unless something in the environment dramatically changes).  The Plans change as necessary to accomplish the goals.

Strategy = general & constant.

Plans = specific & fluid.

So, in a way, the term “Strategic Plan” is an oxymoron – a contradiction in terms.

Focus first on creating your Strategy.  It will guide you for the coming years.  Then let the implementation process begin and allow the Strategy to guide you as you make your Plans.  This is the path toward increased Mission Impact.

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.

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