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Over planning………….

I participated in a facilitated planning session that started  Friday evening, and continued all day Saturday and half day Sunday. This was a volunteer organization and I “volunteered” to attend without any knowledge of who the facilitator was or who the other participants were.  The only information we received was this was a “strategic Planning Session”.

There were 19 participants and all showed up for the entire planning session. Upon arrival we were presented with a “mission statement” which has been  developed by another group from this organization. Our charge was to create a vision statement and develop action items.

While the development process was fairly effective, it was drawn out and a final vision statement was not reached until Sunday afternoon. The last session also developed some action items that needed to be implemented in order to reach the vision. Unfortunately, that was to be forwarded to a new committee, yet to be formed, to implement the action items. The planning process should leave the participants excited and energy filled; I don’t believe that this was the feeling as the group left.

This group was a volunteer group from a total of about 2,000 members. There was a questionnaire distributed to the entire membership, and they were asked to write down a vision as to what the organization would look like 5 years in the future. Prior to our meeting the answers submitted were reviewed and categorized, thus giving the planning team an idea as to the direction the membership wanted to take.

My fear is that this organization is not going to achieve most of the action items they put forth. Any organization that is doing Strategic Planning should have the leadership of the organization as part of the planning session, this did not happen.

A vision statement with the advance material available should take between 2 and 3 hours to be developed. I believe that the planning team should be involved in the entire process and not hand over each planning segment to a different group. The action items and time line for implementation should also be completed by the planning session. This requires specific people to take the action item and a time for its completion. In any organization there is a cost factor as well as a risk factor, these were not considered during this three day process.

I compliment the organization for its attempt to develop a strategic plan and feel that this will plant a seed that can be grown in future years.  A good vision with several achievable action plans that can be seen by the membership will help strengthen the group and will help future planning sessions.

It’s better to try something than to do nothing at all.

Nick J. Petra CFP


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