Strategic planning is crucial to your organization's success. It’s a roadmap for how you’re going to get where you want to go.
Now, because strategic planning is so important, it’s crucial that your board members are involved in the process - and not just once a year. But strategic planning takes so much time, you might be thinking. Well, it really doesn’t have to! In fact, at CalSAE’s 2017 ELEVATE conference, Jeffrey Wilcox, President and CEO of Third Sector Company, Inc., and Tammy Anderson-Wise, CEO of the Dairy Council of California, spoke about how to conduct strategic planning in roughly an hour or less.
One of their ideas? Perform what’s called “The Universe Exercise.” Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Tell your board members to make a list of everything your association does. (You’ll notice some people will have five items while others will have 15. This is a very telling first step, in and of itself.)
Step 2: Now from that list, tell your board members to pick out the items that demonstrate your association’s mission more than anything else. In this case, your mission is your Mercury.
Step 3: Now tell your board members, of all the things our association does - the things you put on that list - pick out the item that has the most positive impact on our association’s money/finances. Then, pick out the item that has the most negative impact on our association’s finances. (If there’s an item that’s pretty neutral - in terms of impacting finances - identify that too.)
Step 4: This last step is all about member value. For this step, have your board members identify the item (from their list) that has the most positive impact on member value. Then, have them identify the item that has a most negative impact on member value. (And by “negative,” we mean “doesn’t really add much member value at all.”)
Once those steps are complete, it’s time for everyone to compare their responses. Were there any drastic differences? What about similarities? Were there any eye-opening responses? For example, let’s say you host a luncheon every year that many people said has a negative impact on your association’s finances. Is that something worth nixing or replacing with something that will have a more positive impact? It’s worth some consideration.
This exercise shows you where you’re efficient and where you’re effective, and also, where you could use some work. It’s a quick way to identify your strengths and weaknesses (without doing a traditional SWOT), and get you on the path to where you want to go.
Want more tips for successfully managing your association, particularly in terms of providing your members with value and raising additional revenue? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Membership Management below! It’s filled with best practices for membership recruitment, engagement, retention, non-dues revenue, and more!