aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

Strategic Planning? Future Goals? The Minority Position

Posted by Ellen on April 19, 2008

I really do get it. I really do understand the frustration with strategic planning (or lack thereof, or poor quality of…) within associations. But because the process and/or product can be faulty doesn’t necessarily mean the concept or intent of forward thinking should be chucked out the association window.

Maddie Grant’s recent post in her Diary of a Reluctant Blogger, a response to a post by Jeff De Cagna which he called “Strategic Planning vs. Strategic Imagination,” and Jeff’s subsequent post all advocate that we do what we’ve been doing differently, and I agree.

But strategic planning — whatever you call it — is inescapably important. As I commented on Jeff’s blog:

…As a mid-level staffer, I’m often frustrated by the lack of strategic direction or focus at a level that would help drive the decisions our education committee must make.

For example, if the association’s strategy is to maintain current membership levels (in our association, this actually makes sense), then we would follow Plan A to expand our reach of current offerings within that membership base. However, if the association’s strategy is to expand our membership (which is also a viable option), it would require movement into a segment that’s traditionally been a minority for us, and would mean following Plan B to expand the types of programs we’re offering.

So I’d still advocate that however you define it, some future-thinking has to be articulated, whether you call it strategic planning or not.

I might be in the minority here, but my frustration isn’t with the fact that our association has a strategic plan, it’s that I’d prefer more specificity — something that would help us be more tactical in moving forward. Something that would help us use today as a springboard for the future.

2 Responses to “Strategic Planning? Future Goals? The Minority Position”

  1. Thanks for the link love! I returned the favor in my latest post… : )

  2. Ellen said

    Thanks, Maddie! Looking forward to seeing it! It’s a great debate – and one we all clearly agree on at the core: things must change in some way.

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