“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” ~ Japanese proverb
In business, as in life, resources are limited; and few organizations feel the squeeze of resources quite like non-profits and associations.
Unfortunately, the vision and goals of such organizations are often developed in strategic planning processes without ever considering the biggest barrier to success: the available resources in which to achieve these goals. If you don’t heavily consider resources when making plans, you risk having your visions defeated by resource reality.
It is a very common tale. 97% of companies say they are not successful at implementing and executing their strategic plans. (Forbes)
Mismanagement of resources is partly why. But effective strategic planning implementation is possible if you know how to properly balance vision with capacity.
A Chicago foundation was facing a critical time in the growth of the organization. The Executive Director had seen the foundation go through three separate strategic planning processes with relative success.
Early strategic planning phases had laid critical groundwork for the foundation, and it was time to really innovate and build brand new paths for the future of the organization.
But there was a problem: the board had so many options and directions they could take the foundation it was overwhelming!
And in the excitement of planning for what was next, focus was lost. With each new idea, option, or direction put forward in meetings, the more paralyzed and divided the group got.
The ED knew that in order to be successful, they needed to focus up and get on the same page. This strategic planning phase was going to pave the way for the future of the foundation for decades to come. They couldn’t risk failing and overloading the plans without critically looking at capacity and scope against vision and goals.
He sought out the best talent to help guide them through the delicate process with a fresh perspective. They found Stacy with Anchor Advisors, Ltd. and brought her on to help them developing the building blocks for the future.
Stacy and her team got right to work to help the foundation plan effectively.
Anchor Advisors, Ltd. approached this project unlike most other consultants the foundation worked with in the past. They first surveyed the staff and board in order to get a 360 view of the organization.
Then, at retreat-like gatherings, they helped the board rediscover and review the history of the foundation. The ED feels this exercise was one of the most powerful parts of the strategic planning process. This facilitated historical review of the organization allowed all the key players to be on the same page. Everyone gained a new perspective on the foundation, their achievements, and why it continues to exist.
These are things that were forgotten by the board previously, but would now become the groundwork for future innovation.
From there Stacy, the ED, and the board developed four mission-driven strategic goals. Stacy helped flesh-out the more detailed approach for each of the objectives. Here she challenged the board and staff with hard, but necessary, resource management questions.
She helped the team agree on a clear priority list and built realistic timelines on what could be accomplished based on the available capacity and scope of the organization.
The ED said “With this plan we can hold ourselves accountable on our goals. Stacy’s third-party facilitation was due to that success. Without her it wouldn’t have happened at all.”
The strategic planning that came out of Stacy’s work with the foundation is healthily on track.
The exercises that Anchor Advisors, Ltd. designed has set the stage for a bright future and has had lasting impact on the day-to-day at the foundation. The board, while functioning effectively before, has now hit a totally new level of cohesion.
Furthermore, there is improved engagement and morale with board and staff. By being able to weigh into to the process, both board members and all levels of staff feel very connected and excited about the future plans of growth.
The ED is excited for the new direction of their organization and the improved camaraderie of his team. He is looking forward to working with Anchor Advisors, Ltd. in the future and recommends them to anyone needing help with their strategic planning.