The Pain Of An Irrelevant Strategic Plan

January 17, 2022 | 
3 minute read

Every month at our free THRIVE IMPACT 101 workshop I ask, “Have you ever dealt with the pain of an irrelevant strategic plan?” And do you know how many people raise their hands?  

Every. Single. Leader. 

Why are strategic plans so painful for so many nonprofit leaders? Especially with how much we invest in them. Here are three primary reasons: 

1) “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” 

Think about your own life for a second… What got you to where you are as a leader is not necessarily what will help you go to the next level. There is always an element of learning new skills and letting go of old beliefs that don’t serve you anymore. 

The same goes for an organization of people. The ways you operate, cultural norms, and belief systems that brought your nonprofit where you are not necessarily the same ones that will get you where you’re wanting to go. 

You must address and work on the culture anytime you do strategic planning work otherwise you’ll do what Peter Drucker says. Good strategy can’t help unhealthy culture. 

2) People have energy towards what they get to co-create. 

Most strategic planning processes that consultants lead are top-down approaches. They can go something like this… 

Your board and Executive Director go on a retreat with a consultant, come out with strategies they all think make sense, and then let the staff know what to do from there.

Maybe they engaged the staff and other stakeholders with a small survey, but rarely does the team feel like their voice actually mattered in the process.

If people on our team don’t feel like their voice matters and aren’t included in the process in a tangible, felt way, you’re not only stealing energy from your people, you’re also stealing some of the most important voices informing the strategic direction. 

3) Our Strategic Plans Need to Grow With Us

How much has the speed and complexity of change increased for you over these last couple of years? 

If you’ve been leading anything lately, probably a lot I’m assuming. I’m guessing you’ve had to shift and adapt based on what you’ve been learning in the midst of all the uncertainty. 

One of the main reasons a strategic plan sits on the shelf gathering dust is because it’s treated more like a static plan that we’re supposed to follow for the next 3-5 years and not like a dynamic strategic direction that needs ongoing adaptation based on what you’ve been learning along the path.  

Your ability to be relevant and thriving as a nonprofit is not based on a single point in time, but your ability to adapt over time. 

This is all why we created the Strategy Energizer…

It’s a strategic planning process focused on culture and co-creation so that you have a strategic direction that can be implemented.  

The approach of how a strategic plan is created matters. 

100% of executives surveyed have shared THRIVE IMPACT helped them solve problems where they were looking for answers. Here is what others leaders shared:

The THRIVE IMPACT Strategy Energizer took our mission and gave us clarity on how we are unique and the role that we play in our community. It was simple, but super powerful.”—Barbara Collura, President & CEO, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. 

“I loved the inclusivity of the process the best. Based on the THRIVE IMPACT process, we engaged everyone, from our front desk agent to the chair of the board.” Stacy Brinkley, President & CEO, The Doorways  

Are you looking to develop a Strategic Plan? Let’s talk and see if we’re a good fit for each other. 

You can schedule a time here to chat more, and let us know what you’re looking to accomplish in 2022!



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