How to Create a Hard-Hitting Hands-On Planning Session With Your Board

Ah, death by strategic planning!

Don’t get me started on how AWFUL and what a TIME WASTER strategic planning can be. At least the way we do it in the noprofit sector.

I am organizing a “hard-hitting, hands-on planning session” with an organization that has been wandering aimlessly for a few years. They wonder why they can’t raise money? Here’s the answer – their vision is not juicy enough to get excited about.

Here’s our agenda for our planning session: (I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent!)

  • Reconfirm Good Cause’s vision and mission.
  • Reach consensus on what Good Cause wants to do in order to implement its vision and mission in the coming year and in the next 5 years. (broad framework here for the longer time period.)
  • Identify strategic directions and set some firm goals around each direction.
  • Answer the question: “how will we know if we have been successful?”
  • Determine the critical success factors that will make or break the new goals.
  • Agree on the board’s role in creating success for Good Cause and what each person is committed to doing.
  • Set next steps so that the staff can flesh out a complete operational plan for the coming year.

I had to tell the staff – you can TRUST me that it will not be a WASTE of time. I told her that I will not facilitate a meeting that I wouldn’t attend myself. : )

This board has GOT to pull itself together around a plan or the organization probably doesn’t have much of a future.

Do you know what the critical success factor is in this meeting? The facilitator. He or she is the person who will challenge, direct, pull together, referee, and ultimately ensure actual results. I take this role very very seriously! It’s an honor and a burden at the same time.

I’ll let you know how it comes out!