One Planning Size Doesn’t Fit All

Artisanal planning. That’s going to be my new thing – designing strategic planning processes, or conversations, that really are home-spun, custom-fit and designed to meet the specific needs of the individual or organization in question.

Oh, wait. That’s what good strategic planning already is. Or should be.

I had coffee yesterday with a student from the strategic planning class I recently taught at Nonprofit Lear ning Point. Lynda is the relatively new executive director of a nonprofit serving local senior citizens, and her organization is small, living on a thread and pretty much driven by her force of will at the moment. While it has been around for a while, it has gone through multiple iterations, all of which have weakened it.

What Lynda, her small board and her struggling organization did not need right now was a six-month, complex process to strategically evaluate each aspect of the organization. There just isn’t the capacity for that depth of work right now.

What her organization needs is a stabilization plan. What Lynda needs are manageable goals that can quickly give her a motivating sense of progress. What her board needs is to grow.

Over coffee, we explored various options, even as we unspun some of the organization’s history and reoriented around what Linda really wanted and needed at this stage of her career and life. The idea of organizational stabilization and board growth became more attractive, because they had the potential to position the nonprofit – in the near-term – in a way that allowed Lynda to make a clearer personal choice about her commitment.

Lynda left with four or five specific action steps built around funding, partnerships, awareness building and client engagement. Each step felt manageable, and each was unique to where the organization currently finds itself.

Artisan planning, or good planning, simply means that every plan is built around the needs of your client. Cookie cutters, and big box approaches, may make your strategic shopping experience easier – they aren’t likely to make it more personal and satisfying. Not for you, and certainly not for your organization.

Just ask Lynda.