Dean West, president and founder of Association Laboratory and FASAE (Fellow of the American Society of Association Executives) offers tips on how to develop a strategic plan that can help the association reach its long- and short-term goals.
The pandemic is the absolute perfect time to do strategic planning because it forces the leadership to think about the future.
A lot of historical and legacy relationships have been disrupted which allows associations to think differently about the role they might play in membersâ€™ lives.
Assumptions are different hence associations have to do things differently. Whatâ€™s maybe important a year ago is suddenly not that important and the things that might not have been considered a year ago are suddenly important.
The concept of doing a big strategic plan every three or five years then reviewing it after a few years is going out of favour. Whatâ€™s becoming more common and more practical in drawing a trend line is a three-year strategic plan, that is discussed in every board meeting.
Generally speaking, the larger and complicated the audience and organisation, the more a substantial integrated research process benefits the association. But if youâ€™re a small association or simply a small number of people, a lot of sophisticated research techniques donâ€™t add any value.
The head of the association should be part of the strategic planning process although not necessarily leading it. If a critical person is left out, then the door is open for them to decide that they didnâ€™t like the research conducted, the process organised and the outcome because their voice is not included.
Also, take time to address these potential challenges and common pitfalls in strategic planning â€“ having the wrong reasons, wrong people, wrong roles, wrong process, wrong help, wrong outcomes, and wrong implementation.