Good Plans Don’t Gather Dust

Having worked with a number of startup businesses over the years, I know creating a thoughtful strategic plan isn’t worth much unless you use it throughout the year to measure success.

Used well, a strategic plan is an accountability document. As Betsy Haley and Kelly Campbell suggest, it’s a way to connect the dots from your mission to your programs.

Connecting the dots starts with a mission statement. Here’s a simple example.

If our mission is to aid the homeless in creating better lives for themselves, a primary program might be to offer beds, meals and referrals.

The big idea: How will helping the homeless change our community? What is the overarching vision of our programs? Are we a leader in the community or a follower?

The questions you might ask in your strategic planning:

  1. Who are we trying to serve? (All homeless, only women, only families?)
  2. What are we trying to accomplish? (Emergency help, healthier food or referrals to job banks?)
  3. How many volunteers and what amount of funding is required for this program to impact the homeless community?
  4. How do we measure success? (X% increase in beds filled, meals served, and referrals or less cost per person due to efficiency?)
  5. How well did our program measure up to our plan?

Questions 4 and 5 are the accountability questions. Outcomes are measured and compared to the plan. The best measurements create questions.

Did our program grow more than planned? Did we have enough funding and volunteers for this growth? Are we a catalyst for change in our community? Are we a leader in creating better lives for the homeless?

Do you have accountability in your organization? Do you use your plan all year-long?

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