Strategic Planning for Bold Change

February 2023 

Over the past three years, the majority of our strategic planning clients have requested a minimalistic approach, which is hardly surprising given the impact of COVID-19 and the overwhelming uncertainty created. As we creep out of the pandemic –

or get used to life within it – we are getting more requests for a bold strategic planning session.  We’ve walked through the process with a few clients and thought it might be helpful to share more broadly the different types of planning, the lead-up for strategic planning, and how we run a strategic planning session for bold change.


Preparing for a bold change in strategy 

Strategic planning for bold change helps organizations prepare and implement big changes that have the potential to impact overall direction..  Where there is potential for significant reputational and financial risk, we recommend the long approach: 

A. Assess the need for change: identify reasons why the change is necessary and determine the full impact it will have on the organization.  We always recommend engagement with Board members to clearly articulate the new vision and hear ideas on how this will impact the organization.

B. Develop the vision and goals: create a clear vision of the desired outcome of the change and set specific, measurable steps for achieving it.

C. Identify and analyze options: identify a range of potential options for implementing the change and analyze the pros and cons (risks and benefits) for each one.

D. Develop a plan: create a detailed plan that includes actions, timelines, resources, and contingency planning.  It is important here to identify metrics to measure how the change is unfolding and its impact.  We recommend ‘real-time’ reporting such as a live dashboard with simple metrics.  

E. Communication and gain support: this links with step A and involves communicating the change and plan to all interested parties including employees, members (participants/clients), donors, community partners, and the public, and gaining their buy-in and support.  The most important consideration here is to communicate “why” the change is necessary.

F. Implement, evaluate, and adjust: execute the plan and closely monitor the progress and process to ensure the change is occurring as planned and the organization is moving in the desired direction.

Conducting bold strategic planning sessions 

Bold strategic planning involves taking a proactive and ambitious approach.  This is how we typically run these sessions – noting the preparation work above (A – F):

  1. Take a long-term view: think about the priorities and objectives in the long-term such 5-10 years. This will provide the license to identify bold and ambitious objectives to move the organization forward.
  2. Look beyond the present: in order to develop bold and innovative strategies, it is important to take a forward-looking approach and consider potential future developments, trends, and challenges that the organization may face.
  3. Encourage creativity and experimentation: bold planning requires fresh thinking and new ideas.  Encourage participants to think creatively – design thinking strategies work well here.
  4. Assess and manage risks: bold plans come with significant risks.  It’s important to assess these risks and develop mitigation plans while still pursuing your bold direction.   
  5. Be open to adaptation: bold plans need to be agile and open to adaptation as circumstances arise.  Everyone involved needs to be prepared to give and receive feedback, monitor metrics, and be prepared to adjust.  It is critical to accept adaptation IS part of the change process. 
  6. Stay focused and persistent: bold plans take time, resources, perseverance, and guts to achieve.  Build a strong team that understands and supports the vision and is willing to face obstacles and setbacks.  Celebrate and communicate small wins as you move toward the new bold vision.

We’ve shared the different types of planning, the preparation necessary for bold change, and how we conduct bold strategic planning sessions.  If you’re looking to transform your strategic directions from small year-to-year tweaks to a bold direction, we are ready to work with your team. 

As always,

Jennifer and Wynona