Heather Comstock Connects

Helping nonprofits and other volunteer organizations develop strong relationships and a clear voice in the community.

Don’t Let Planning Get In the Way

Is your organization planning process so complex it actually stops progress cold? Picture: By Murúg (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

I am currently involved with a small group working through some personal organizing strategy and it calls to mind some failed strategic planning and even some general planning meetings I have attended. Unfortunately, the planning process can be so interesting and exhilarating it is easy to get sidetracked and not get anything really accomplished.

So how do you avoid wasting time with your planning? Let’s pick on my favorite fake organization, Bucksnort Do-Gooders.  This is a science fiction costume group whose primary activities are providing a place where they can re-create their favorite costumes, meet other people, and provide opportunities for community service.

Keep your eyes on the bigger picture. At the start of the meeting, write down your mission statement or your overall purpose. Bucksnort Do-Gooders might write down, “How do we provide more opportunities for our members to play and help their community.” Don’t worry about making this sound all mission-statement-y. Just nail down your purpose for planning.

During the discussion, the idea comes out that the group should sponsor a 5K run to make money. On the surface, raising money for local groups is a good thing, but the reality is, a 5K doesn’t really match the purpose of the group. People can’t run in costume. There’s no real time for people to discuss costuming. It will be a lot of work but distract from the primary reason people want to be a part of Bucksnort Do-Gooders.

Assign responsibilities. How many times have great ideas or tasks been put forward but fizzled because nobody actually did the tasks? Time and talents must be committed.

Bucksnort Do-Gooders decide they would have more reach with a social media account. Everyone agrees that this would help them connect members with each other, share costuming techniques, and showcase their community service. It meets the main goal. During the meeting they pick several outlets for the social media and assign the maintenance of the accounts to specific board members.

Baby steps are okay too. Planning doesn’t always have to mean developing a complex set of goals and objectives for the next ten years. Sometimes, you just need to keep your organization moving forward.

Bucksnort Do-Gooders knows that they need to refine their strategy for future growth. During the meeting they realize that this is going to take more research and planning but in the meantime, they don’t want to drop out of site. They agree to continue doing periodic activities just to stay on the radar screen while they develop a deeper approach. They assign certain activities to specific board members to keep the organization more forward.

Don’t let the pursuit of perfect interfere with good enough. Good enough will carry you forward while seeking perfection can stop your mission cold.

How about you? Have you seen planning go horribly awry or distract to the point where nothing is happening?

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