Strategic Planning and Organizational Development

A strategic plan for any corporation is an important part of day-to-day organizational management. Many nonprofit organizations, regardless of being well intended, overlook the creation of this business tool.  Aurora can facilitate the development of a strategic plan to solidify the organizational mission/vision, identify strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats (SWOT), and establish clear and achievable goals/objectives. Once established it will provide a means to measure and monitor the health of the organization.  The plan is typically updated annually to reflect any changes in the business environment or organizational direction. 
       
The planning process begins with educating the board and management as to its potential benefits and worthiness of the time and finances to create it. Strategic planning can provide tremendous return by:

Establishing a clear and communicated common mission and vision - Full agreement and understanding of an organization’s mission, from board members to staff is critical. The strategic planning process is a consensus building activity for a shared vision, the foundation to then build upon for setting organizational goals and monitoring successful outcomes. A well-defined plan  and communication assures alignment of board decisions to staff implementation.

Assuring organizational direction is dynamic and well defined - Specific strategic objectives, and plans to achieve them, can help you “get where you are going” without being unintentionally side lined. A strategic plan clearly defines steps to achieve the desired future of an organization. All levels of the organization can benefit and appreciate having a road map to follow. An agreed upon plan makes prioritization of work easier, as short-term decisions are now based on long-term implications. A plan should remain dynamic and lend flexibility to unforeseen organization change or needs.

Helping organizations manage change process - Change is inevitable. Anticipating and planning for change, as best possible, gives the organization a business advantage by anticipating it, taking necessary actions to prepare for it, and successfully accommodating it. Planning minimizes the need for reactive changes in the business environment. An organization without an effective strategic plan may react in a hurried, scattered way to unanticipated circumstances.

Easing day-to day decision-making processes - With a plan in place, day-to-day decision-making is gauged against the organizations long-range and short-term goals. A new or changed initiative can be evaluated against the strategic plan. The plan can make it easier to decide if, when or how the initiative effects the existing plan, prioritization, and contingencies. Such planning reduces the stress on the decision makers as all choices are made within the context of a strategic framework.

Improving potential for “organization of choice” for funders - Investors in charitable organizations should be assured that funds donated are being properly administered to address social need. A well developed and administered strategic plan builds a public trust that the funds will/are being used for the greatest impact and public common good. A formal process of monitoring and documenting the agreed upon objectives eases the burden of required reporting.

Defining a set of metrics to visualize past, present, and future - Historical synopses might include a description of major milestones and changes that have contributed to how the organization functions today. Understanding past performance can help an organization make better choices for the future. An ongoing measurement of performance shortens reaction time to change and assures intervention remains within the framework of existing objectives and the overall mission and vision. Future direction can be based on the historical strengths of the organization.   

Providing an opportunity to analyze the continuum of the organization’s systems and processes - Ongoing critical review of the organization’s processes and how it operates is of immeasurable value. Initial planning, ongoing monitoring, and annual review and business adjustments assure the organization can stay on track and grow the efficiency and effectiveness of its services.