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Do you know where you are going?

24 October 2018

A strategic plan is a broad picture of where the committee and management want the club to be in the future, it is long term planning at its best.  A strategic plan can be used to guide the committee and management in making those tricky board room decision, while also supporting the culture of the club from the committee through to front line staff.  

A strategic plan will describe the direction for the club and the forces likely to change your club’s business in the immediate future. Strategic planning concerns anything that will bring results from 1 year to 5 years or beyond.

A strategic plan should;

  • Be reviewed every year;
  • Be a living document that can be modified if and when required;
  • Be concise (ideally 2-3 pages long);
  • And use simple language that everyone can understand.

Why you club needs a strategic plan

Clubs often face key challenges;

  • They are run by volunteers with limited time;
  • Organisational knowledge (including specialised skills like being a Treasurer) is often “inside the individuals head”, when committees change, this knowledge is often lost and the new committee is required to start from scratch.
  • People are often not sure where the club is heading or should be heading, and find that they often just do the same thing they did last year.

Clubs are a business and must be governed and operated as such, and it is important to view it this way.  Producing a strategic plan for your club will take time up front, but a quality strategic plan will repay your efforts many times over.

What are the benefits of having a strategic plan?

A good strategic plan will;

  • Create a focus for where the club would like to be in 3 to 5 years time;
  • Redirect scarce volunteer resources to the important tasks and reduce “time wasting”
  • Improve the clubs day to day decision making
  • Generate direction and vibrancy for the club, making it more attractive to potential members
  • Help in identifying areas to increase the clubs income.

Where to start

As mentioned above getting started on creating your strategic plan will take some work, but once you have the foundation in place it will become easier to review and update on an annual basis.

Before you can begin writing your strategic plan you will need to conduct an analysis of both the clubs internal and external environment, as this will give you a better understanding of the forces that will affect your clubs ability to get to where it wants to be.

The Clubs New Zealand Resource Room contains a range of information and tools that can assist your club in getting started with your strategic plan, including "Strategic Planning Analysis tools" 

Once you have a better understanding of the clubs environment both internally and externally you will be armed with the information you need to begin writing your strategic plan.

What should your strategic plan look like?

When writing your strategic plan remember that you are not looking to create a novel, ideally it should only be 2-3 pages long and be concise so that everyone in the club can understand and get behind it.

Your strategic plan should contain the following;

  1. A Vision;
  2. Purpose;
  3. Goals; and
  4. Measures

What is a vision all about?

Vision statements are typically short statements that explain where your organisation is headed. They act as a guiding light for the clubs strategic day to day decisions.

They usually don’t change much over time, and should be clear, compelling, well publicised and realistic.

The benefits of having an agreed vision statement include;

  • Providing an inspirational statement that captures the essence of an ideal future;
  • Providing a clear direction for your club to head in;
  • Describing what the final “success” will actually look like;
  • Allowing your club to prioritise its limited resources; and
  • Increasing commitment of club members to carrying out actions that will enable the vision to be achieved.

The vision statement guides your Strategic Plan and where you spend your time and resources. Vision statements don’t have to be complicated or flash – they are there to give your club members an inspirational slogan to follow and provide a basis from which to start making plans.

Your Mission Statement

Written as either a mission statement or purpose statement, the statement describes clearly what an organisation does or why it exists – its primary reason for being. It often communicates what you do and why your Association is special or different.

The benefits of having an agreed mission statement include;

  • Clearly setting out core reason for being;
  • Guides your clubs actions and resources;
  • Differentiates between your club and another;
  • Avoids your club trying to be all things to all people;
  • Helps to set strategic plans

Setting Goals

It will often be a challenge to fit everything you want to do inside the plan – especially as you are likely to have generated hundreds of new ideas through the strategic planning process! The key is to agree on which ideas represent the best “bang for your buck” – in other words, which ideas or goals will be the most effective in tackling the issues you identified in the analysis phase and will be the most effective in reaching your vision.

There will be some things that are “nice to do” that won’t make the cut – but that’s actually a good thing as you should now have a clearer idea of what needs the most focus. The first step is to agree on your Key Strategic Areas. Once you have done this, then work out which of the goals proposed best fit your mission statement, vision and values.  Combine similar goals or cut out ones that are clearly impossible.

There is no point in creating a strategic plan that is not realistic. Your club will lose a lot of interest and momentum (not to mention wasted a lot of time) if your club chooses to write a plan and then forget about it!

Goals should be;

  • Measurable;
  • Achievable;
  • Believable;
  • Embody personal responsibility;
  • and Start with a verb.

All good goals should describe something you can do. Verbs are action words, and therefore, when setting goals, the goal should always start with a verb. Once your goals have been identified you will need to set your strategic outcomes, focus and measures (KPI’s).

Tips for writing strategic outcomes and measures:

  • First word is an end point word e.g. “more”, “have”, “50” more members.
  • Don’t use the build word e.g. “create”, “implement”. These types of words are not measurable.

Action Plan

You should now be able to pull together your strategic plan, which sets out what your club is and what it wants to achieve.

You must now have a way to make those plans become reality. The most common way to do that is through an “Action Plan”. This is simply a list of all the things that your club is going to actually do, presented in a format that allows you to see “big picture” strategic goals next to the specific actions your club is going to take towards each goal during the year.

An action plan is filled out at the start of each year or season, and is valid for one year. It’s a good idea to have your Committee and Management team do the action planning. That way, you decide who will do what and can delegate tasks where necessary. It’s a good idea to negotiate/discuss the actions you will take as opposed to just writing anything down and checking that the actions align with your club’s vision/values.

Getting a strategic plan up and running for your club will not be an easy task (especially if you have not had one up until this point).  It may be that initially you have to go back to the drawing board a few times to get it to a point where your goals align with the vision and what you want to achieve, and this is not necessarily a bad thing as you will develop a clearer picture of the things that matter in ensuring the clubs long term success.

Remember strategic plans are not a set and forget - the committee and management as a whole need to be committed to reviewing it annually and most importantly using it to guide to the decision making process.

More information on strategic planning can be found in the 'Finance and Planning' folder within the Clubs New Zealand Resource Room.

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