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The Dynamic Approach to Strategic Planning

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Jeffrey W. Steed

There is a fear by some that strategic plans stifle real growth in organizations by draining energy from the organization.   There may also be a belief that strategic plans can cause an organization to miss new opportunities that become available during the execution of the plan because those opportunities have not been incorporated in it.  Therefore, those opportunities may be forever gone.

Traditional strategic plans do seem to anticipate a non-changing, static environment during implementation.  Once the vision (“Where are we going over the next five years?”) and mission statements (“How are we going to get there?”) of the organization are established, the specific objectives used to develop a practical timeline  become a fixed guide for the future.  Even though a traditional strategic plan can have some flexibility, the timeline of objectives provides a somewhat locked-in scenario for the organization.

Strategic plans are absolutely crucial to an organization for the sake of: (1) the leadership knowing how to direct their energies for the sake of purposeful, intended success over a specific time period, and (2) the organization as a whole knowing the strategic direction so that the staff can respond accordingly in their respective positions.  Without overall strategic plans, leaders can get lost in the trees amidst a very large forest that is likely to lead to an organization experiencing stagnation resulting in less impact or even eventually organizational death.

Instead of dismissing the usefulness of strategic plans altogether, what about the idea of
adding a dynamic, flexible perspective to the strategic plan?  Specifically, what if an organization used a dynamic strategic plan instead of a traditional strategic plan?  A dynamic strategic plan allows for an organization’s strategic plans to be flexible enough to evolve with the ability to incorporate unexpected opportunities instead of assuming a static environment.

How is it possible to develop a strategic, long-term plan that is flexible enough to include the reality of a dynamic environment within the timeframe in which the strategic plan is to be executed?

As the various aspects of the mission statements help to define how the organization is going to accomplish the vision, consider adding a mission step for yet undetermined and unknown opportunities that will occur during the tenure of the strategic planning process.  Specifically, one of the statements of the mission to accomplish the vision can be simply the following: “Pursue new undetermined opportunities to accomplish the vision as resources are available.”

Concerning the timetable of objectives within the strategic plan related to specific steps to accomplish the mission statements, the following can be used: “The organization’s leadership meets quarterly to brainstorm and evaluate new opportunities that have presented themselves.”  Intra-quarter discussions may be needed depending upon the time limitations of various opportunities.  The leadership will need to determine if the pursuit of various new opportunities will strengthen the organization’s ability to achieve the vision.  They must also evaluate the amount of resources needed to pursue the new opportunities in light of resources needed for pre-existing mission-related steps.

The additions of dynamic statements within the mission and the related specific objectives within the strategic plan timeline provide a simple mechanism to keep the strategic plan flexible enough to not miss opportunities that may present themselves during the tenure of an organization’s strategic plan.   A dynamic strategic plan can further the impact related to the organization’s purpose and reason for existence.

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