On a recent road trip, I set up my GPS and took off to my destination. The GPS depicted areas of road construction and heavy traffic. It would tell me where and when to turn. When I took a pit-stop for some retail therapy, it recalculated the directions and got me back on the most efficient path. Several hours later, I arrived safely at my destination.
GPS to us as individuals is similar to a strategic plan for our organizations. Action plans, strategic plans, action agendas, strategic maps—or whatever you want to call them—are valuable and highly underestimated. Just like the dusty map in your car, gone are the days of laborious, intricate plans that sit on a shelf.
A strategic plan is a tool. Similar to GPS, there are several types of tools you can use. A plan not only helps you decide where you are going, but helps to get the board and staff on the same path and can help you anticipate, and plan for, future challenges.
Often, I’ve imagined my GPS saying, “Why won’t you listen to me?” after driving off-course thinking I know a better route. It’s also easy for our organizations to get off-course as we get absorbed in a funding opportunity or a needed service that isn’t in alignment with our true mission. A strategic plan will help you to see when a “recalculation” is necessary.
Preparation and set-up are needed for both a GPS and strategic plan to work properly. Obviously, you determine where you are and where you want to go. But most importantly, you have a system in place to follow the plan. No matter which map, tool or plan you use, developing a system to help you stay on the path is critical. Here at GLCYD, we use a dashboard and formerly report our progress to our board quarterly. This gives our board members a visual on how close we are to reaching goals and helps to keep staff members on track in reporting their achievements.
Next time you use your GPS, think about your organization. Is your organization using a GPS?