Planning is something we do every day, with the idea of achieving our goals and objectives, be they personal or professional. We plan because we want to be efficient in using our resources, especially when they are scarce. And although planning is something relatively intuitive for human beings, it is also a skill, and can even be considered an art.
In the strategic planning workshops that we have led, the most frequent questions participants have asked include:
- “If we have been functioning just fine for many years without a strategic plan,
why do we need one now?”
- “What is the immediate benefit we will see?”
- “Who is going to be in charge of carrying out the plan?”
- “Who should be involved in the process of creating a strategic plan?”
- “How will we know that the strategic plan is right for our business or organization?”
- “How will we know our plan is a success?”
- “How much will it cost us?”
- “How soon will we see the results?”
- “How much time do we have to invest in training?”
All of these questions arose during our strategic planning workshop with the French Alliance, a nonprofit organization operating in Oaxaca for more than 40 years. The Oaxacan organization forms part of the international Federation of French Alliances, the primary reference for teaching French language and culture, globally.
The Board of Directors of the French Alliance in Oaxaca, composed of dedicated Mexican and French individuals, has found it necessary to plan for the future. With the help of True Roots, they have begun answering those initial questions everyone has when launching strategic planning. Of significance is the realization that, contrary to what many people believe, strategic planning does NOT predict the future. In reality, it is a tool that prepares organizations or individuals for future possibilities—be they threats or opportunities.
As part of the workshop, Board Members have defined 5 impact indicators that form part of a 3-year strategic plan for the French Alliance of Oaxaca. This plan was spontaneously baptized, “Les Cinq Magnifique” or “Los Cinco Magníficos” (“The Five Glories”).
In True Roots, we know how crucial strategic planning is to allow a business or an organization to proceed with certainty. Once a strategic plan is approved, it should be treated as a special project requiring diligent tracking and follow up. As such, we go beyond putting a strategic plan on paper, and provide monitoring and evaluation as part of our services in order to ensure maximum impact for our clients.
By José Luis Zárate