A good business strategy describes who you are, what you are trying to achieve, and how you are going to do it, over a set period.
A meaningful strategy helps retain focus, increase decision-making capacity, monitor resource, and drive ownership internally. Creating one is an art, not a science, but there are steps anyone can take to make sure their plan is clear and cohesive, which in turn makes it more likely to be taken up by their organisation.
Over the past three years Pilotlight has supported the winners of the Weston Charity Awards, which this year will be announced on the 14th of June, to develop strategies to help pave the way to a more sustainable future, and here we share some of our hints and tips on how to approach this process.
1. Start with the end goal in mind: To create a good plan, you need to be clear on what you are trying to achieve. To what purpose are you writing this plan? What do you need the plan to achieve? What does success look like to your charity?
2. Focus down your aims and ideas: What does your charity need to do to achieve this vision? Narrow down your vision into key social and business objectives, specifying what you are trying to achieve and what you need to do. What kind of infrastructure and resource is needed to meet the vision? An analysis of the organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, can be a useful tool in figuring out where your effort needs to lie. Ensure your goals are realistic and timed.
3. Involve your team: Involving the team in the creation of the vision and strategy increases ownership and develops new ways of thinking about challenges. A strategy afternoon to explore vision, current and future services, ideas, questions, and challenges, can be a powerful way to generate thought and kick-start the planning process.
4. Operational plan: Once your strategic aims are decided, develop a meaningful operational/action plan to accomplish your goals, which covers both finance and risk. Make sure your plan to achieve these goals is SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, responsible, and timed. It is vital to have clear areas of ownership and check-in points along the way to see what is working and what isn’t.
5. Keep it concise: It is important the strategy is as clear and concise as possible, so it is easy to follow and check in with. Consider creating a visual representation of your vision and objectives to place around the organisation space, or even within the email signature – to keep the vision and strategy live and present in everyone’s mind.
The winners of the Weston Charity Awards will be announced next Wednesday 14th June. To date the Awards have supported over 50 charities to develop strategies to be more sustainable through the prize of a 10 – 12-month engagement with Pilotlight and funding. Find out more about the awards here https://westoncharityawards.org/
Miriam Cunningham is project manager at Pilotlight