What makes a good strategic plan?

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Some swear by them and some have sworn them off. So, what makes a good strategic plan? A successful strategic plan recognizes resource limitations; uses an aspirational vision of the future to establish shared priorities; and creates a framework for accomplishing those priorities. In practical terms, it answers key questions: What is our role? What is most important to us? What actions will we take or investments will we make? In what order? What will we not do?

A successful plan aligns expectations of those who care about an organization, and often includes community members, partners, policy makers, leadership, and staff. This can happen through targeted engagements in the planning process and via the final product, which should clearly articulate your organization's:

  • Vision for the future you work toward.
  • Role in achieving this vision.
  • Reasoned, prioritized, and phased investments of time, money, and other limited resources to advance your vision.

BERK has come to focus more on a key element of success: establishing a framework for advancing the plan’s priorities. We have found that successful strategic plans include a framework that links the plan with ongoing decision making, including processes for policy making, work planning, and, perhaps most importantly, budgeting. This means the strategic plan itself can be shorter, simpler, and communicate organizational priorities more clearly. 
The combination of a strategic plan’s vision and strategies with a strong framework for ongoing implementation gives an organization flexibility to manage to unforeseen challenges and opportunities while staying true to agreed-upon priorities.

BERK's team has been creating successful strategic plans with our partners for more than 30 years. We have a strong sense of what works and what doesn't, but we never follow a template so each planning process is custom and unique.