Strategic Confession

| by Mendi Nieters

I have a confession to make. I am extremely involved with an organization I care deeply about, and they don’t have a strategic plan. 

Hi, my name is Mendi, and my favorite organization does not have a plan.” 

It’s ironic given what I do professionally and the soapbox I have right next to me, but it’s true. Conversations have been going for a while now to define our strategic vision, but we keep getting pushed off topic due to leadership changes, staff vacancies, and trying to build volunteer leadership. 

Recently that decision has cost us. We had to make some changes and the biggest deciding factor was finances. Our impact numbers are up. Income and engagement are up. We tried hard to stay focused on growth but making these changes have felt like a failure when it was simply a misstep. 

It was very clear during our discussions that while we share a similar vision, the strategy within that vision was different or focused solely on our personal area of the mission. 

On a brighter note, I have had the pleasure of walking with another nonprofit over the past several months as they seek to define their strategic plan on the eve of their 50th anniversary. Seeing the mix of ideas and passion come together to form a path for their future has been invigorating! While the final plan still has not been approved, they have already made some internal adjustments. In the past these changes might have seemed forced, but given their current vision the transition felt right. 

Strategic plans come in all shapes, sizes, and varying levels of detail. The important part of the plan is a shared framework held by your leadership, staff, investors, and volunteers that enables you to build your future. Plans change while building, but conversations and transitions are smoother if you are looking at the same framework. 

Learn from my mistakes! If you want to talk about clarifying your strategic vision, let us know.

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