Guide to writing a strategic plan for your Alumni Network

Guide to writing a strategic plan for your Alumni Network

What are the basic steps in a strategic planning process?

Step One - Getting Ready

  • Identify specific issues or choices that the planning process should address
  • Clarify roles (who does what in the process)
  • Create a Planning Committee
  • Develop an organizational profile (including membership criteria)
  • Identify the information that must be collected to help make sound decisions

Step Two - Articulating Mission and Vision

A mission statement is like an introductory paragraph: it lets the reader know where the writer is going, and it also shows that the writer knows where he or she is going. Likewise, a mission statement must communicate the essence of an organization to the reader. An organization's ability to articulate its mission indicates its focus and purposefulness. A mission statement typically describes an organization in terms of its:

  • Purpose - why the organization exists, and what it seeks to accomplish
  • Business - the main method or activity through which the organization tries it fulfill this purpose
  • Values - the principles or beliefs that guide an organization's members as they pursue the organization's purpose

Step Three - Assessing the Situation

Once an organization has committed to why it exists and what it does, it must take a clear-eyed look at its current situation. Remember, that part of strategic planning, thinking, and management is an awareness of resources and an eye to the future environment, so that an organization can successfully respond to changes in the environment. Situation assessment, therefore, means obtaining current information about the organization's strengths, weaknesses, and performance - information that will highlight the critical issues that the organization faces and that its strategic plan must address. These could include a variety of primary concerns, such as funding issues, new program opportunities, changing regulations or changing needs in the client population, and so on. The point is to choose the most important issues to address. The Planning Committee should agree on no more than five to ten critical issues around which to organize the strategic plan.

Step Four - Developing Strategies, Goals, and Objectives

Once an organization's mission has been affirmed and its critical issues identified, it is time to figure out what to do about them: the broad approaches to be taken (strategies), and the general and specific results to be sought (the goals and objectives). Strategies, goals, and objectives may come from individual inspiration, group discussion, formal decision-making techniques, and so on.

Step Five - Completing the Written Plan

The mission has been articulated, the critical issues identified, and the goals and strategies agreed upon. This step essentially involves putting all that down on paper!

The product of Step Five is a strategic plan!