Tom Henz

All organizations – big or small, public or private, for profit or nonprofit – will benefit from strategic planning. A strategic plan that is reviewed and updated periodically enables an organization to look outward and inward, establish goals, allocate limited resources, focus the team’s efforts, and steer toward a desired future.

Strategic planning is even more vital during times of rapid change. The Coronavirus pandemic has completely transformed how we work, how we learn, how we live. There will surely be many more changes that won’t be revealed perhaps for months or years to come. It is imperative for an organization to adapt to these changes through an intentional planning process.

Every strategic plan – in fact, every organization – should start with a clear mission statement and a vision statement.

The mission statement defines the purpose of the organization, why it exists. There are many and varied reasons that are often found in mission statements. They include profit generation, return on investment, capitalizing on opportunities, job creation, social justice, etc.

Frequently there is more than one purpose listed. However, in the big picture there is only one primary reason for any organization to exist and that is to benefit their customers. The customer needs to perceive that the value of the product or service to be purchased exceeds the cost, or the customer will not make that purchase. If there are no purchases, there is no reason for the organization to exist.

Conversely, the more profitable the organization, the more resources it will have to provide even greater value to its customers. And the more an organization’s products and/or services benefit their customers, the more repeat business and referrals it can expect. The mission statement should then, at a minimum, address how the organization will provide value for its customers.

The vision statement establishes an organization’s future direction. A clear and compelling vision statement is critical. It paints a picture of the future, the dream, the desired destination. It provides energy, excitement, enthusiasm, motivation.

The vision statement will serve to guide the organization in making decisions and maximizing resources. It will be of value in the hiring process by identifying talent needed to help the organization reach the dream, and enable potential employees to determine if that is the dream they also wish to pursue. The vision statement is important to assure everyone is on board, pulling in the same direction, aiming for the same target.

Just as the mission statement needs to be customer-centric, so, too, does the vision statement. An organization that is forward-focused with the main objective of serving its customers will be heading in the right direction.

The mission statement and vision statement are the bookends for the strategic plan, the purpose and the destination, the alpha and the omega. It is the logical starting point for the strategic planning process. Once they are well-defined, a plan can be formulated to direct the organization’s best way forward.

The USCB Center for Strategic Planning can help facilitate your organization’s strategic planning process. Our unique method called Building a Bridge to Better provides the resources your organization will need to develop a successful strategic plan.

To learn more or to schedule a meeting to review the process, contact me at 843-208-4845 or THenz@uscb.edu.

Tom Henz is the facilitator of USCB’s Center for Strategic Planning.