Yes, a nonprofit organisation must do strategic planning – but you cannot do it simply do it to have plans for plans sake. You must also not confuse the strategy part (the vision, dreams, thoughts, aspirations etc) with the actual planning part – where you plan and write your strategic thinking into a tool that you can monitor. And really – I do not think (and here the esteemed experts can correct me) your annual strategic process should be a continuous new vision and goals exercise - it should be an annual monitoring and adaptation of the existing strategic plan. In working with various organisations in strategic planning processes is that they are not ready for their processes – they have not taken cognizance of the environment, ignoring market place realities and quite often show an unwillingness or inability to change. They quite often have protectionist visioning and are not prepared to make tough decisions. This lack of readiness is quite often more pronounced in the staff or rank and file of an organisation. If so – why then do leaders and consultants have a superior approach to this.
My experience of Leaders and consultants in organisations are that they can be quite patronising and condescending towards the rank and file in strategic processes – continuously quoting aspects such as building the bridge as you walk it and the various models of leadership levels (their approach being that if you do not “get It” you must be on “lower level”). Now maybe most of us are in the basement, but the quote of building the bridge as you walk it indicates that you cannot have all the answers in neat packages as you are creating the future – and that this can create some uncertainty and fear in the rank and file. However it also clearly indicates that you are actively doing something –you are Building the bridge as you walk it – if you do not you are going the end up in the water.
My advice to staff is that the concept of building the bridge as you walk it, is valid – my advice to the leaders would be dream but don’t forget to plan and monitor. Strategy is not the same a planning and you have to do both in strategic planning.
- Pauline Roux is the Managing Partner of The Organisational Puzzle.