Making the most of your strategy
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your strategy.
Our suggested four phase strategic planning process covers all the broad elements that you will need to consider to create a successful strategy. You may feel that some of these areas need more time and attention in your organisation than others. That's useful to identify. Strategic planning is a dynamic process and rarely developed along a neat and clear path.
Here are some more top tips for making the most out of the strategic planning process.
Use your vision and mission and values
Your vision, mission and values are not just statements of good intentions, they are the foundation of your organisation and of any strategy it produces. When reviewing and developing a strategy, you should explore how any new proposed developments, services or projects contribute to your organisation's aims and ways of working.
Actively involve people - get them talking
A strategic planning process needs a small group to lead it, but the rest of your team and other stakeholders should be involved at appropriate stages. Bringing a range of people into your strategy discussions will ensure you consider a mix of perspectives and ideas. You will also have the chance to test out new suggestions: other people's insights may surprise or challenge you. Being involved in an open conversation about the organisation's future can also be exciting and motivating for people. Read more about involving people.
Voluntary and community organisations can be good at spotting their own weaknesses. But you can often get better insights by starting with what the organisation does well and building on that, rather than assuming you have problems that need to be fixed. This approach, known as appreciative inquiry, can stretch people's vision about what might be possible and allow disagreements to be discussed in a more positive environment. Celebrating your existing successes can be an energising and motivating starting point. Find out more about appreciative inquiry in our action research report on what makes a successful strategy.
Be creative have fun!
Don't be afraid to try out a new exercise or tool if you think it might help you think through options or open up issues. There are lots of different ones you can try out, so feel free to mix them up. Pictures, photos, games, exercises and so on can be used alongside traditional tools like SWOT and PEST to get people thinking and expressing themselves differently. Find out more about popular strategy tools.
Focus on specific changes you want your organisation to make
Strategy encourages you to look at the big picture, so it can be difficult to translate wide long-term aims into specifics. After you have opened up options, challenge yourself and your colleagues to identify clearly the actual changes (impact) the organisation wants to achieve and which services and products (outputs) it will deliver. Further detail can be added to your operational plans.
Ask yourself whether you need external help
An external perspective can be refreshing and helpful. When discussing strategy, a lot of people struggle to step back from their day-to-day priorities and work issues. There are likely to be strong personal opinions and individual attachment to certain projects. Because of this, many organisations choose to bring someone in to facilitate discussion and help them write the plan.
Don't forget to make decisions and implement your strategy
One of the biggest risks to the success of a strategic plan is that you can get lost in the creative elements of strategy, refining your vision, thinking up different ways in which you could meet your mission, but then neglect to make decisions, prioritise ruthlessly or communicate and implement your strategy. It's also common to use up all your team's effort and energy on developing the plan, but then to run out of steam before you can implement it. Make sure you translate your strategy into actions, otherwise the whole process will be wasted!
Advice and support
- Funding and finance
- Coping with cuts
- Addressing needs
- Managing change
- Planning for the future
- Involving people
- Public Service Delivery
- Governance and leadership
- Compact Advocacy programme
- Campaigning and influencing policy
- Collaborative working
- ICT (information and communication technology)
- Climate change
- People, HR and employment