Association Growth: Rethinking the Planning Process

Planning can be painful, and many associations have tried to make up for “good process” with “big process”. When the size and complexity of an organization increases, their strategy and planning processes either develop unwieldy, and often bizarre layers, or they simply do not keep pace. Many big organizations have let their planning processes run out of control. Some of the results are not pretty:

  • The budgeting process has not only become unwieldy, highly detailed, and often politically charged, but it has largely supplanted any real strategy and planning efforts.
  • Annual planning processes become too much of an event, they suck valuable resources, and are too slow and cumbersome to provide value.
  • Organizations are planning for the wrong reasons, usually to satisfy a corporate requirement, rather than to actually improve the business condition.
  • Organizations have not made the investment in leaders and managers to develop the skills necessary for true strategic thinking.
  • Even associations that set the operational standards in their industry do not take the time to truly understand their business as a basis for innovation and growth.

association growth:: rethinking the planning process

When organizations shift their thinking about what they want to get out of their planning processes, they generally follow the fundamental objectives that their new planning process must:

  • Consume less organizational effort than the existing process.
  • Increase the strategic ability of leaders and managers.
  • Provide a well defined relationship between vision, strategy and actions to all employees to improve morale, and the drive for common good.
  • Provide detailed, actionable deliverables in the short term, with diminishing detail as the planning horizon increases.
  • Entrench planning as part of the leadership toolkit.
  • Operate effectively regardless of the quarter and not be limited by calendar dates such as December 31.

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