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Strategic Planning

OVERVIEW
Brief description
This toolkit provides a model for taking an organisation through a strategic planning process.
It covers planning to do strategic planning, covering the background issues that need to inform
or direct the strategic planning process, and then defining the strategic framework for the
project or organisation activities. It is this strategic framework that gives the activities
coherence and direction. We have included practical exercises to use during a strategic
planning process. The toolkit expands on the short introduction to strategic planning in the
toolkit on Overview of Planning.
Why have a detailed toolkit on strategic planning?
Strategic planning is the core of the work of an organisation. Without a strategic framework
you don’t know where you are going or why you are going there. So, then, it doesn’t really
matter how you get there! This toolkit offers you a way to do detailed strategic planning. You
can replicate the method in any organisation or project that needs to do strategic planning.
Another toolkit in the CIVICUS toolkits project deals with an Overview of Planning. That toolkit
will help you see how strategic planning fits into the overall planning process. The toolkit on
Action Planning will help you take the process further. The toolkit on Monitoring and
Evaluation will help you to expand on the process of impact evaluation. You do strategic
planning to help your project or organisation make a significant impact.
Who should use this toolkit?
This toolkit will help you if you have had only limited experience in planning or in strategic
planning. Perhaps you have not been involved in running an organisation, project or
department before. Or perhaps you have not been involved in the planning side of the work
before. Or perhaps you have always focused on action planning and now realise how
important strategic planning is. If strategic planning is new, or fairly new, to you, then you
should find this toolkit useful.
When will this toolkit be useful?
You will find this toolkit useful when:

You need to plan strategically as well as operationally and to make a distinction
between the two.

You need some ideas to help you plan a strategic planning process.

You begin the planning for a new project or organisation.

You feel you need to review your strategic framework.
A strategy is an overall approach, based on an understanding of the broader context in which
you function, your own strengths and weaknesses, and the problem you are attempting to
address. A strategy gives you a framework within which to work, it clarifies what you are trying
to achieve and the approach you intend to use. It does not spell out specific activities.

Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email:

toolkits@civicus.org)

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Strategic Planning
OVERVIEW

BASIC PRINCIPLES

BEST PRACTICE

RESOURCES

pp.1-2

pp. 3-47

pp.48-50

p.51

GLOSSARY OF
TERMS p.52

Examples
Agenda

What is
strategic
planning?
p.3

Planning for a
strategic planning
process p.4

Covering the
background p.17

Defining the
strategic
framework pp.27-28

Input – discussion
Timing pp.4-6
Who should be
involved? pp.7-9
Input pp.10-11
Preparatory
work pp.12-15

Structure p.44

p.18

Clarification of problem
analysis p.19
Review p.20

Clarifying
planning
parameters

Vision pp.29-30
Values pp.31-32

Programmes p.21

Mission pp.33-34

Organisation p.21

Overall goal
pp.36-37

Planning the
agenda/process

pp.22-24

Immediate
objective pp.38-39

pp.16-17

Identifying critical
issues pp.25-26

Key Result Areas

Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email:

toolkits@civicus.org)

Internal
implications p.43

Change
management
Potential
problems p.46
Where to? p.47

pp.40-42

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Strategic Planning
BASIC PRINCIPLES
What is strategic planning?
A strategy is an overall approach and plan. So, strategic planning is the overall planning that
facilitates the good management of a process. Strategic planning takes you outside the dayto-day activities of your organisation or project. It provides you with the big picture of what
you are doing and where you are going. Strategic planning gives you clarity about what you
actually want to achieve and how to go about achieving it, rather than a plan of action for dayto-day operations.
Strategic planning enables you to answer the following questions:





Who are we?
What capacity do we have/what can we do?
What problems are we addressing?
What difference do we want to make?
Which critical issues must we respond to?
Where should we allocate our resources?/what should our priorities be?

Only once these questions are answered, is it possible to answer the following:


What should our immediate objective be? (See the section on Immediate Objectives)
How should we organise ourselves to achieve this objective? (See the section on
Internal Implications)
Who will do what when? (See the toolkit on Action Planning)

A strategic plan is not rigid. It does, however, give you parameters within which to work. That
is why it is important to:

Base your strategic planning process on a real understanding of the external
environment (See the section on Input – discussion);
Use work you have already done to extend your understanding of the external
environment and of your own capacity, strengths and weaknesses (See the section on
Review).

Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email:

toolkits@civicus.org)

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Strategic Planning
Planning for a strategic planning process
A strategic planning process is not something that can happen in an ad hoc way, at a
regular planning meeting or during a staff meeting. It requires careful planning to set it
up so that the process is thorough and comprehensive. When you develop or revise a
strategic plan, you are setting the parameters for the work of your organisation, usually
for two to three years or longer. So, it does make sense to spend some time and
energy planning for your strategic planning process.

TIMING
The questions to ask here are:



When do you need to do a strategic planning process?
How often do you need to do a strategic planning process?
At what point in an organisational or project cycle do you need to do a strategic
planning process?
How long should a strategic planning process be?

Some suggestions:

You need a strategic planning process when the strategic framework within which
your organisation or project functions needs to be developed, clarified, or
consolidated. On the next page, you will find a questionnaire to help you decide
whether or not your organisation or project needs to organise a strategic planning
process.
Don’t do a strategic planning process more than once every two years unless the
external or internal context has changed dramatically. Usually once in three years
is enough. This does not exclude you from doing a strategic review more often,
say once a year. A strategic review is quick - a day or less where you look at the
strategic framework, against what is happening internally or externally, as a sort of
reality check.
There are various times in the life cycle of a project or organisation where it
makes sense to do a strategic planning process. So, for example, when you are
initiating a new project or new organisation, then you need to do a strategic
planning process. If you have just had a major evaluation of the organisation or
work, and this has led to challenging recommendations, then you may decide to
have a strategic planning process immediately afterwards. When you reach the
end of a major phase in a project, it makes sense to review progress and prepare
for the next phase through a strategic planning process.
It is not possible to do a thorough strategic planning process in fewer than three
days. If you are not used to this sort of process, you will need at least four or five
days.

Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email:

toolkits@civicus.org)

4

Strategic Planning

QUESTIONNAIRE:
PROCESS?

DO

WE

NEED

A STRATEGIC

PLANNING

The management team of the organisation or project should work through the following
questionnaire.
Where a statement has two parts and you would answer “definitely” to one part but not
another, then go with the weaker response. So, for example, in the first statement, you
may be able to answer “definitely” your organisation has a clear vision, but not be sure
whether there is consensus about the vision. Your response then is “not sure”.
Score your project or organisation as follows on each statement:
1
2
3

=
=
=

Definitely
Maybe/Not sure
Definitely not

If your total is 20 or more, then your organisation or project is ready for a strategic
planning process. If it is 15, or between 15 and 20, then your organisation probably
would benefit from a strategic planning process. Under 15, then there is no urgency
but you should at least do strategic planning three years after your last strategic
planning process.

Statement

Definitely

Maybe
Not Sure

Definitely
Not

SCORE

The organisation/project has a clear
vision of what it wants to achieve and
there is consensus around this vision.
Value issues are often discussed in
the organisation/project and there is
agreement on the values base of the
organisation/project.
The current mission statement of the
organisation/project reflects clearly
what the organisation/project does, for
whom, and why it is important.
The organisation/project regularly
reflects on its strengths and
weaknesses and on the opportunities
and threats in the environment.
The organisation/project has clear
goals and objectives for what it wants
to achieve – these goals are SMART
(see Glossary of Terms for an
explanation of SMART).
The organisation/project finds it easy
to prioritise, making a distinction
between what it must do, what it
should do and what it would like to do.

Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email:

toolkits@civicus.org)

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The way in which the organisation/project is structured internally makes sense in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. The work done by the project/organisation fits together coherently – the different areas of work fit well with one another.org) 6 .Strategic Planning The organisation/project has clear indicators by which it measures the impact of its work. Total score: __________________ Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. The external and internal contexts in which the organisation/project operates are relatively stable and there have been no major changes in the past year.

Because of this. Organisational structure Who should be involved? The management team of the project or organisation. then all staff should be taken through this. once the strategic framework is in place. in the section on Who Plans? The two key questions here are:   Who should participate in the strategic planning process? and Who should facilitate the strategic planning process? Who should attend? The strategic planning process helps an organisation clarify. including administrative staff in this discussion as it is likely to provide a set of operating principles – in other words. All staff and Board members: Administrative staff should be involved if it is important for them to understand the organisation’s issues and problems.org) 7 . values and mission discussion Review of strengths and weaknesses. you may want to invite them to participate in all stages where professional staff are involved. for example.Strategic Planning WHO SHOULD BE INVOLVED? Who should be involved in a strategic planning process? For a breakdown of who should be involved at different stages across the planning spectrum. However. she should be involved throughout. But it is not necessary for the receptionist to come to all the sessions. consolidate or establish its strategic framework. preferably in the smaller units or departments within which they work. So. It is very important to involve all staff. Programme or professional staff for the whole of this process. All staff and Board members. We suggest the following: Strategic planning phase Planning the process Understanding the context Vision. Certainly senior administrative staff should be involved throughout. look at the toolkit: Overview of Planning. include administrative staff in the discussions around internal strengths and weaknesses. When administrative staff are very interested in the professional work. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. The management team with input from the rest of the staff. if the organisation has an accountant. to make it clear why people who work in the project or organisation are expected to work and behave in a certain way. Professional staff and Board members. with time to ask questions and get clarification. Embedded in the strategic framework are the values and vision of the organisation. it is important to involve the whole organisation in at least part of the planning process. opportunities and threats Discussion of strategic options and goals.

A skilled person is available to deal with conflict that may arise so that it is handled constructively rather than destructively. and to keep the process on track without becoming emotionally involved. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. However. Someone with specific organisational expertise is available to raise issues and prevent the organisation/project from avoiding difficult issues. provided you get the right person. to prevent issues from being personalised.Strategic Planning Using an outside facilitator We recommend that you use a skilled outside facilitator for a full-scale strategic planning process so that:      There is a designated (assigned) person to keep order.org) 8 . Everyone else is freed up to get involved in the process without worrying too much about process issues. On the next page you will find a checklist to help you choose the right external facilitator for your strategic planning process. Disadvantages have mainly to do with cost. ideas and an outside perspective. Someone with extensive experience is available to offer insights. the investment should be cost-effective in terms of results.

self-discipline and the ability to operate systematically verbal and written skills a style that suits your organisation. Once you have found the right person.org) 9 . Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. you just want him or her to make a clear distinction between opinions and facts) □ logic. written brief so that there is no miscommunication about what is wanted and expected.Strategic Planning CHECKLIST FOR SELECTING AN EXTERNAL FACILITATOR: Look for the following: □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ an understanding of development issues generally □ □ □ □ commitment to deadlines an understanding of organisational issues insight and empathy authority/credibility experience in running strategic planning processes a good reputation with previous clients (check this!) conflict management skills and confidence about handling conflict able to help you clarify your outcomes a commitment to helping you reach your desired outcomes honesty and fairness (don’t look for total objectivity – anyone worth using will have opinions. and reasonable rates. measured against market prices. agree on a clear.

org) 10 . You could have more than one person. training. rather than just someone who happens to be available. It is usually. etc. Remember that no-one is neutral – people have opinions and you need to assess these in the light of a number of different opinions. challenges and threats in your organisation’s external context are. Who should give input? You are looking for someone who understands development. It is easy for those of us who are involved in the work of the project or organisation to lose sight of the overall picture and to think about the issues from the point of view of our own work only. Try to get an overall perspective – not just from one point of view – either by having more than one speaker or by inviting a speaker who is able to give an overall view. your area of expertise (e. drilling wells. Make sure that you cover the three main ingredients of the context: development globally and nationally. The external input should make it clear what the opportunities. This will make it more likely that you will get the person or people you want. nationally and locally. So. your sector globally. Getting someone in with a wider view and wider concerns may open doors to new ideas and ways of thinking.Strategic Planning INPUT Because a strategic planning process looks at the big picture. for example. As soon as you have a date for the strategic planning process and at least two weeks in advance. By the end of the input you want everyone to have a comprehensive understanding of the context and some new thoughts to inform your strategic planning process. you might have someone giving a government perspective and someone else giving a community perspective. however. This helps to keep an organisation at the cutting edge of development work. or even a particularly well-informed staff member can give the input. Organising external input should be the work of the group or person planning the process. has particular insights into the sector of development in which you are involved or are planning to be involved. a good idea to get someone in from “the outside” as well. and who has some understanding of the kind of contribution an organisation or project such as yours could make. (See also the toolkit: Overview of Planning and the section on a SWOT Analysis). It is also important to have an authoritative person – someone who is respected in the sector and whom your staff and Board will take seriously. What should be covered in the input? When should you organise this? Sometimes a Board member. it is useful to get external input into the process.g.) globally. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. nationally and locally.

information. stakeholder information that affect your work are available. Make sure your brief includes the following:  The purpose of the input – what you hope will happen as a result of the input. possibly even as a handout.Strategic Planning What should the brief say? The brief should state clearly what the venue will be and the time you want the speaker to arrive. Most people involved in development will be prepared to give their time free if your organisation or project has credibility or potential to make a difference to a problem that concerns them. accommodation and so on. However. It is also customary to give the speaker a small gift as a token of appreciation for giving up his/her time. You want him/her to hear what goes before his/her input. Do not rely totally on external input.  How interactive/provocative you would like the input to be. policies.  How long the input should be.  What the speaker should cover in content. Make sure that the important statistics. Remember to find out in advance whether the speaker needs any special equipment – from a flipchart and markers to a computer and screen for a Powerpoint presentation.  Whether or not you are hoping that the speaker will take part in any other part of the process.org) 11 . etc. your organisation/project should pay for transport. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus.  How the input will fit into the strategic planning process.

the section headed Tools 1: Structuring the Work Progress Analysis). including achievements against targets and indicators (see Glossary of Terms) of impact. Input from staff (see also the toolkit: Overview of Planning.org) 12 . it is useful if the teams have done some internal reflection as well. Even if you have an external review. A departmental/project/unit level analysis of the work done. These are not mutually exclusive – even with external input it is useful for teams to do some internal thinking and reflection. A management team review of the work done across the organisation. including achievements against targets and indicators of impact (See also the toolkit: Overview of Planning. it is useful to get all those who will be participating in the strategic planning process to do some preparatory work individually. the section headed Tools 1: Structuring the Work Progress Analysis). In addition. and A review of your organisation’s internal functioning.Strategic Planning PREPARATORY WORK There are two important tasks that need to be done before a strategic planning process:   A review of your organisation’s work. The review of the work This can be done by:    An extensive external evaluation before the strategic planning process in order to feed into it. On the next page you will find a questionnaire you could give participants as preparation for a strategic planning process. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. The review of the internal functioning of the organisation This can be done by:    An external review conducted by someone with an in-depth understanding of development and non-profit organisations. A management review of the internal functioning of the organisation or project. although not necessarily of your particular sector.

What are the challenges and threats facing us as an organisation/project in our external environment? 3.org) 13 .Strategic Planning  PREPARATORY WORK FOR A STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS – INDIVIDUAL This questionnaire will help participants in a strategic planning process to prepare themselves so they can make a useful contribution to the process. Thinking about our context: 1. What are the opportunities we should be taking advantage of in the environment in order to: a b Make us more sustainable as a project/organisation? Help us achieve our vision? Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. What has happened in the past three years in the external environment that could affect our work as an organisation/project? 2.

org) 14 .Strategic Planning 4. 8. Do you think we are clear about our vision. What information do you have that you think is important to share with others in the strategic planning process? Thinking about our organisation: 5. values and mission are. What weaknesses are preventing our organisation/project from achieving its vision? 7. What challenges have we failed to meet in the past two to three years and why have we failed to meet them? Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. What are the important strengths of our organisation/project? 6. values and mission? Make some notes about what you think our vision.

What challenges have we met well in the past two to three years and what helped us to meet them? 10.Strategic Planning 9. What is the most important outcome that you would like to see emerging from this strategic planning process? Why do you think it is so important? Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus.org) 15 .

But do have a commitment to time-keeping. You do this in much the same way you would plan for a workshop. and everyone knows what time to set aside for the process. Day One. In the section on Examples. Circulate the agenda for comment. This does not mean verbatim (word-for-word) notes. useful information will be shared. Allocate responsibilities. Finalise it. not just get the tasks done. make sure that someone is responsible for chairing each session and that they are skilled enough to do so properly. You have set things in motion so that the right people will come. for example. you are entitled to query the agenda and express concerns you may have. allow half an hour for a discussion around values. vision and mission. and two hours for a discussion on whether or not there is a need for additional administrative staff. you will find an example of the agenda for a four-day strategic planning workshop. As the client. brief him or her very carefully. most importantly. Keeping this in mind.e. the planning team should:      Draw up an agenda for the whole process. input and prework. Build in steps that involve all participants – you need to take people with you. Now you are ready to plan the actual process and to draw up an agenda. The important things to remember are:          Know what you want to achieve – have clear outcomes for the process. Get a draft agenda. If you have asked people to do preparatory work. If you are using an outside facilitator. Do not. then work on the agenda together with him or her. Prioritise sensibly. what is agreed. Know what additional issues need to be dealt with in the time available. make sure this is taken into account in the agenda so that people feel their efforts are valued. Don’t be inflexible. Day Two. etc. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. Know what you have to cover to achieve these outcomes – know what steps you have to work through. Whether or not you decide to use an outside facilitator (we recommend you do). participants. but rather a record of important discussions and decisions.Strategic Planning PLANNING THE AGENDA/PROCESS You have worked out what you are going to do about timing.org) 16 . At the very least. Divide it roughly by day i. Make sure that someone records what is said and. draw him/her and see whether it addresses the issues listed above.

Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. you could run a one-day session which covers all of this. a week or so before the actual strategic planning workshop. Alternatively. The background steps form the initial steps in your strategic planning process and include:       Input – discussion Clarification of problem analysis Review of programmes and of the organisation as a functioning system Clarifying the planning parameters – what is the broad framework within which we will plan? Identifying critical issues that must be addressed during the strategic planning process Synthesising – putting together the key learnings for the organisation or project that emerge from this background work. You should aim to complete this stage of the strategic planning process by the end of Day 1 of a four-day workshop. the planning takes place in a vacuum.Strategic Planning Covering the background For your strategic planning process to go well.org) 17 . you need to include certain background steps which “set the stage” for your planning. Without them. at the latest.

Additional input from communities to highlight issues. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. What you do with the input is just as important as having the input. A relevant video or photographic presentation. They are not mutually exclusive. There may be times when it makes sense to combine them. or taken out of the input by the facilitator. A discussion. see the toolkit: Overview of Planning). These may have been raised by the presenter. Integration of work done in preparation for the process (see above for some ideas on preparatory work). on “what are the implications for us?” A summary of what has been said in the form of a PEST (see Glossary of Term) analysis (For how to do a PEST Analysis. or pre-decided. see the next page) It is worthwhile spending the whole of the first morning of the strategic planning process on this discussion.org) 18 . since it forms the basis for the rest of the workshop. Small group discussion around some of the key issues. After the input you might have:         A question-and-answer session with the person giving the input. either in small groups or in plenary.Strategic Planning INPUT – DISCUSSION We have already discussed the importance of getting some input on the big picture at the beginning of the strategic planning process. to get clarification and raise issues. A clarification process around what the problem is you are addressing through your work (for more on this. Here are some suggestions.

a significant problem? Will solving the problem make a significant difference to the lives of people in development terms? Clarification here will help you as you move ahead in your strategic planning process. we looked at problem analysis and how to do a problem analysis in detail. If you are an established project or organisation. (See the section in the toolkit with the heading Tools 2: Doing a Problem Analysis). A problem analysis is an attempt to understand the problem you are addressing. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. If you are a new organisation or project then you need to do a careful problem analysis. then you need to revisit your original problem analysis and check that you think it is still valid.Strategic Planning CLARIFICATION OF THE PROBLEM ANALYSIS In the toolkit: Overview of Planning. the questions you need to be able to answer are:   Is the problem we plan to address. and the various cause and effect links that are involved.org) 19 . based on your understanding of the context in which you want to work. If necessary. At the end. We suggest you visit the Overview of Planning toolkit now to familiarise yourself with the steps involved in doing a problem analysis. do the full problem analysis process in the workshop. or are addressing.

Here we are more concerned with how you process the preparatory work during the strategic planning process. The organisation or project needs to reach consensus on which conclusions and recommendations they agree with. It is probably best if people have already read the written report. then focus discussion around the conclusions and recommendations during the strategic planning process. projects or programmes within an organisation have done their own work progress review (using something like the tool for structuring the work progress analysis given in the toolkit: Overview of Planning). Programmes You need to ensure that the preparatory work done on the impact and effectiveness of your programmes is shared with the workshop or those involved in the process as this forms essential background to your strategic planning process. look at the section on preparatory work above. Do we do our work in a way that is cost-effective and that produces maximum results with the least possible input? (This is also dealt with in more detail in the toolkit: Monitoring and Evaluation).  If management has done a review process. When you do a review of the organisation.  If units. conclusions and recommendations for discussion. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. department prepares for the presentation. you may decide to do any of the following (again. then bring it all together using a technique like a SWOT Analysis.) When you do a review of programmes. Is it making a difference? (This is dealt with in more detail in the toolkit: Monitoring and Evaluation). then this should be presented at this point. and which they do not. (See the toolkit: Overview of Planning for more on how to do a SWOT Analysis. let the external evaluator present a summary of his/her findings.  If the evaluator has already done a presentation. It is this review that enables you to do a SWOT (see Glossary of Terms) Analysis. provide an opportunity for them to present what has come out of their deliberations. Any individual work that has been done should be incorporated into this level when the unit. Depending on the form in which the preparatory work was done.Strategic Planning REVIEW This step involves a review of the work already done and of how the internal system of the project or organisation is functioning. project. Once this preparatory work has been processed (dealt with below). For an introduction to the review process. departments. they are not necessarily mutually exclusive – you could use more than one of the suggestions):  If you have gone the route of an external evaluation. you look at the impact and effectiveness of the work you are doing.org) 20 . you look at the efficiency of the way in which the work is done.

That will only emerge clearly and definitively during the strategic planning process. projects or programmes within an organisation have done their own work progress review (as suggested in the toolkit: Overview of Planning). the facilitator. The question to answer here is:  What have we learned from this programme review that we must keep in mind as we go forward with our strategic planning? Organisation You need to ensure that the preparatory work done on the efficiency of your project or organisation. it is important to draw out learnings and reach conclusions. This also forms essential background to your strategic planning process. project.  If the expert has already done a presentation. Any individual work that has been done should be incorporated into this level when the unit.  If management has done a review process. Write these learnings on a flip chart as a reference point for the rest of the process. and which they do not. departments. department prepares for the presentation.org) 21 . should ask questions such as:  What are the internal strengths on which we need to build?  What are the internal weaknesses we need to remedy?  What are the internal problems that are negatively affecting our ability to have an impact through our work? Do not try to sort out these problems now. Depending on the form in which the prework was done.  If units. then provide an opportunity for them to present what has come out of their deliberations. and on the way in which you organise and carry out your work. Just be aware of them. then this should be presented at this point. In bringing this all together. In the end. is shared with the workshop or those involved in the process.Strategic Planning  Whichever options or set of options you select. or person facilitating this session. how we organise what we do depends on what it is that we do. then focus discussion around the conclusions and recommendations during the strategic planning process. conclusions and recommendations. The organisation or project needs to reach consensus on which conclusions and recommendations they agree with. you may decide to do any of the following (again. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. they are not necessarily mutually exclusive and you might use one or more of the suggestions):  Get an external organisational development expert who has looked at your organisation to present his or her findings. This can be facilitated either by the external facilitator or by someone within the organisation.

How many resources you believe you can access is an important parameter in your strategic planning. Strategy must aim to solve significant problems. This is another term borrowed from business but useful in the development context. Knowing your distinctive competency. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. So. The stakeholders (see Glossary of Terms). This needs to be taken into account in the strategic planning process. or distinctive competencies. Your competitive advantage. but it will influence how you define your goals and objectives. It is the special something that makes stakeholders such as donors or beneficiary communities say: “We want to work with them”. knowing what your competitive advantage is. you are ready to clarify your planning parameters. Access to resources. Your distinctive competency might be working with community health workers. What do we mean by planning parameters? No project or organisation can operate in a completely limitless or boundless way. influences what you do and how you do it. 3. The intention is to make a significant and positive difference to the lives of the proposed beneficiaries. There are certain parameters or boundaries that define or limit what it can and cannot do. beneficiaries. but it might link its health work to basic literacy. Again. So. It refers to what you are particularly good at. 4. 5. then its strategic options will be bound by this belief. Who the stakeholders are. This is a term borrowed from business but it is useful in the development context. what it is most likely and least likely to do well. You might have a competitive advantage in lobbying and advocacy work because some of your staff come from government backgrounds or have worked for big corporations that you now want to influence. or producing socially relevant but entertaining media. for example. be they partners. 2. should be part of your strategy. 6. you might have a competitive advantage compared with other organisations doing similar work because you have a good track record in the sector. Its parameters are defined by its understanding of the problems and of what causes them. What needs to be taken into account in clarifying the planning parameters? Your planning parameters will be defined by: 1. Your values. Your distinctive competency. The values of the organisation or project provide parameters or boundaries to the strategic options. and exploiting it where you can.org) 22 . If the organisation believes in “nothing for the people without the people”. or developing literacy material. helps you to clarify your planning parameters. a health project in a disadvantaged community won’t suddenly decide rather to focus on providing bursaries for tertiary education. Resources include money. The problem analysis. or in the communities in which you work. people and expertise. It refers to that which makes you preferable as an agent of development to other similar organisations. for example. and by the particular expertise of the project. It may not affect your vision or your values.Strategic Planning CLARIFYING PLANNING PARAMETERS Once you get to this stage in your strategic planning process. donors.

if it believes the opposite. On the next page you will find an exercise you could use to help you establish what the planning parameters for your project or organisation are. It is important to keep monitoring the assumptions that have been made in case external circumstances change and you have to adjust your plans. Other such assumptions might be: The economy continues to improve. Another element in the planning parameters is assumptions. for example. Laws restricting the employment of women are liberalised. Business is keen to co-operate with civil society in this matter. (See also the toolkit on Monitoring and Evaluation). Assumptions are external conditions that your project or organisation cannot control but which it assumes will exist and which are necessary to the success of the project. the organisation/project must have good reason to believe it. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. then this becomes one of the planning parameters: We can rely on government support at the legislative level. There is no increase in the current levels of violence. There are no floods this year. If it does. as a hindering factor. Government continues with its policy of privatising state-owned businesses.org) 23 . To make this assumption. However. So.Strategic Planning You may have other planning parameters that you can identify for your project or organisation. then this also needs to be taken into account in planning. a project that works with informal sector businesses may make an assumption that government will support the informal sector through legislation and regulation.

Decide which you think will be most productive. Step 3: List the parameters about which there is agreement on a separate flip chart sheet. Step 1: Ask each group to draw a picture on a sheet of flip chart paper. and some way to stick the flip chart sheets on a wall.Strategic Planning  EXERCISE TO HELP A PROJECT OR ORGANISATION DEFINE OR CLARIFY ITS PLANNING PARAMETERS This exercise will take about an hour: 30 minutes in small groups. Step 4: Discuss those parameters about which there is disagreement and reach some sort of consensus. you need flip chart paper. The picture should show what the group thinks its planning parameters are in terms of:        The problem analysis The stakeholders The distinctive competencies of the organisation or project or group The comparative advantages of the organisation or project or group Values Access to resources Assumptions that can be made about the external environment Step 2: Get each small group to present and explain its picture. To do the exercise. It should be done in smallish groups – about five or six people in a group.org) 24 . The groups could be random or could be based on work units. Begin by explaining the various terms. and 30 minutes sharing in plenary. felt-tipped pens. preferably in a few different colours. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. This list should be prominently displayed throughout the process to keep the process in touch with reality. Add the consensus parameters to your list.

and at how you define your planning parameters.org) 25 . On the next page you will find an exercise you could use to help you establish what the critical issues for your project or organisation are. You should now be in a position to identify the critical internal and external issues which need to be addressed. What is a critical issue? A critical issue is one that meets most or all of the following criteria:       Is related to a core problem Affects the lives of a significant number of people either directly or indirectly Can be addressed through the competencies and resources of the organisation or project Needs to be addressed if the organisation or project is to be able to progress in its work Builds on the strengths of the organisation or project and/or the opportunities available to it Addresses weaknesses in the organisation and/or assists the organisation to deal with threats to its work or existence. or to do with the way in which the organisation or project carries out its work.Strategic Planning IDENTIFYING CRITICAL ISSUES The work you have done so far has looked at the context in which your organisation or project operates. it would now be useful for you to identify the critical issues that must be addressed by the end of the process. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. To proceed with your strategic planning process. at the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation or project. to do with the organisational or project vision. These issues can be external or internal.

Let people talk to their neighbours in the first step. and some way to stick flip chart sheets on a wall. 30 minutes reaching consensus in plenary. you need flip chart paper and felt-tipped pens. To do the exercise. Step 4: Prioritise the list related to the problem analysis by using the questions on prioritising in the toolkit: Overview of Planning. Step 2: In plenary. those that are important but could wait with another symbol. Cross out those that do not.org) 26 . brainstorm a list of critical issues. and those that would be nice to address but are not that important with a third symbol. Step 5: Prioritise the internal list by answering the following questions:    Which of these must we deal with within the next six months if our work is to progress effectively? Which of these should be dealt with within the next year to ensure the long-term ability of the organisation or project to survive and do its work? Which of these should probably be dealt with in order to improve our working environment? Mark those that are very urgent with one symbol. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. Begin by explaining the criteria for a critical issue (see previous page).Strategic Planning  EXERCISE TO HELP A PROJECT OR ORGANIZATION TO IDENTIFY THE CRITICAL ISSUES IT HAS TO DEAL WITH This exercise will take about 45 minutes: 15 minutes in small brainstorming groups. those that are important but could wait with another symbol. Mark those that are very important with one symbol. dividing them into internal and those related to the actual problem analysis. Step 3: Go through the brainstormed list and check each item to see that it meets three of the critical issue criteria. Step 1: Let each small grouping of people come up with at least four critical issues that meet at least three of the criteria. Suggest that the critical issues they come up with meet at least three of the criteria. By the end of the strategic planning process you should have a strategy to address your top two categories in each list. and those that would be nice to address but are not that important with a third symbol.

The key result areas should. The immediate objective of the project or organisation. and should contribute to the fulfilment of the vision. rather than contradict one another. and should address the needs of the key stakeholders who are the intended beneficiaries of the work. A strategic framework includes:        A clearly stated vision. Assumptions that are made (see the section earlier on clarifying planning parameters) should be carefully considered in terms of their effect on the ability of the project or organisation to make an impact. you are now ready to move to the “meat” of the strategic planning process. This is defining the strategic framework within which your organisation or project functions. The key result areas on which the project or organization intends to focus. enable the objectives and goals to be met. This means that they should fit together and complement one another. So. The overall goal of the project or organisation. for example. All these elements need to be in alignment. A mission. articulated in a mission statement. The consideration of gaps and opposing and supporting forces should be done in relation to where the organisation is and what it wants to achieve.Strategic Planning Defining the strategic framework With the groundwork done. An understanding of the gaps between where an organisation or project is and where it needs to be to achieve its goals and objectives and of the forces that are likely to help and hinder it. the mission should fit with the values and vision of the organisation. Clearly articulated values. accumulatively. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. The strategic framework should give coherence and clarity to the work of the organisation or project.org) 27 .

the process of defining the strategic planning framework looks like this: Values Problem identification VISION Mission OVERALL GOAL IMMEDIATE OBJECTIVE KEY RESULT AREAS ACTION PLANNING Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus.org) Internal implications 28 .Strategic Planning In a diagrammatic form.

It is something that guides them in their work and which they believe can be achieved if enough projects and organisations share the vision and work towards it. An example of a vision might be: We strive to contribute to a society where every citizen has equal access to quality health care and is able to live in an environment which supports quality health through access for all to clean water.org) 29 . healthy food and sanitary living conditions. This vision is not something they can achieve on their own. objective or activity help us to make a contribution to our vision? On the following page. They have a vision of how society could or should be in the future.Strategic Planning VISION What is an organisational or project vision? Organisations and projects in the not-for-profit sector usually exist because they want to make a difference in society. you will find an exercise you could use to help you develop a vision statement for your project or organisation. It shapes the framework and gives the organisation or project a basis on which to answer the following question: Will this goal. The vision is the starting point for any strategic framework. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. It believes that its work will contribute to this vision. The particular organisation with this vision may be an organisation that trains and supports community health workers in rural villages.

They should draw or construct a picture of what such a society would look like. shape. The facilitator should capture key words. using colour. affordable.org) 30 . equal access. have been fulfilled – the problems are solved and the society is functioning just as they had always hoped. quality health care. They have arrived back to find that their dreams of how the society should be. stated in a vision statement. etc). To do the exercise you need flip chart paper. especially anything that is value-related (e. Step 2: Ask the groups to imagine that they have been out of the country for ten years. and something for sticking up the flip chart sheets.Strategic Planning  EXERCISE FOR DEVELOPING A VISION STATEMENT This exercise will take about 60 minutes: 30 minutes in groups and 30 minutes in plenary.g. and/or images. Divide participants into groups of about four or five so that everyone participates. Step 4: The whole group studies the words and statements and jointly (in smaller groups if necessary) constructs a vision statement that reflects the range of input. Begin the vision statement with phrases such as: We strive for … We believe that … We are committed to … When everyone is happy with the statement. equitable allocation. Step 3: Let each group present its picture and explain what it represents. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. Step 1: Ask participants to describe the three or four key problems they are trying to address and to write these down. in terms of the problems they have identified. you will have a vision. democratic. around which there is consensus. words. felt-tipped pens.

then you are likely to involve beneficiaries.org) 31 .Strategic Planning VALUES Your organisational values are the shared values that underpin your work as an organisation and your relationships with users and other stakeholders. what should we do? Is the work we are doing consistent with our stated values? On the next page you will find an exercise you could use to help you develop consensus around the values of your project or organisation. Your organisational values will determine your strategies and your operational principles. ideally. you have an organisational value that emphasises doing things with rather than for people. The kinds of decisions you need to make based on your organisational values include:        Should we work with this group of people. They are what you believe is the right way to do things and to deal with people. and what you believe about the way that. the world ought to be organised. or potential beneficiaries. or organisation? Should we spend money on this? Is what we are doing worthwhile or could the money be better spent doing something else? Can we tender for this particular work? How should we respond to this statement from business. If. closely in your planning process. Clarifying and reaching consensus on your organisational values is very important because it is this that provides a basis for you to make difficult decisions. or project. government or a donor or other civil society organisations? Is the way we are going about this project consistent with our values? If not. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. for example.

which is a continuation of the exercise on developing a vision statement. Step 3: In the plenary. Step 1: Write up the vision statement developed during the strategic planning process. How staff/volunteers behave when they approach and do their work. Then ask the plenary: What are the values implicit in this vision statement that should guide our work if we are to make a contribution to our vision. You need flip chart paper and felt-tipped pens. Step 2: List the values and value statements that come up.Strategic Planning  EXERCISE FOR DEVELOPING CONSENSUS AROUND YOUR VALUES You need about 30 minutes for this exercise. Write these up on a flip chart.org) 32 . develop a set of principles (Do’s and Don’ts) for:   How the organisation or project functions. They should provide the organisation or project with a touchstone against which to measure itself ethically. The exercise can be done in plenary. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus.

when it is possible. the work is not geographically defined. How it does its work – in broad terms. We do this by helping government develop land policies that will benefit the disadvantaged. The project is meant to benefit the landless poor not the government officials. So.org) 33 . meals and the opportunity to socialise. Can you identify the four components of a mission statement in the two examples given? It is important for an organisation or project to be very clear about the target group. We aim to improve the conditions in which elderly people in our society live.Strategic Planning MISSION You should now be in a position to express your organisation’s mission in a mission statement. particularly the landless poor. We do this by providing people over the age of 65 who have limited resources with transport. In this example. So. a mission statement gives the geographical area in which the organisation or project works. in the mission statement above which deals with land. The government officials are an interim target. what methods it uses. A working principle of working with others whenever possible reflects a value about combining. Note that. as an ongoing strategy for achieving your vision. Who the work is aimed at (the target group) and who it is done with. for example. and. A mission statement describes what the organisation does. complementing and reinforcing efforts. although the actual work may involve improving the understanding about land issues of government officials. but the actual target is the landless poor. how it does it. the target group is landless people. have access to land for sustainable development. in broad terms. What the organisation or project aims to do or achieve. An example of a mission statement reflecting the latter is: We are an NGO working to ensure that all people in our country. This is different from working with a particular stakeholder group such as government. a mission statement will have four components:     What the organisation or project is. Your mission includes the particular way in which your organisation intends to make a contribution towards your vision. with whom or for whom it does it. An example of a mission statement in a development context might be: We are a church-based group working in the Grassylands area. Why is a mission statement important? A mission statement is important because: Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus.

On the next page you will find an exercise you could use to help you develop a mission statement for your project or organisation. It helps you to clarify and focus your work. but you cannot finalise it until you have reached agreement on your overall goal and immediate objectives. If any of the components change. then the mission statement needs to change as well. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. In the context of a strategic planning process. That is why it is important to revisit your mission statement from time to time.Strategic Planning   It is an easy way to communicate to others what you do and how you do it. it is useful to introduce the mission statement once you have clarified your vision and values.org) 34 .

Strategic Planning  EXERCISE TO HELP YOU DEVELOP A MISSION STATEMENT You need about 45 minutes for this: 20 minutes in groups and 25 minutes in plenary. you need to work in small groups of about five or six people each. Give them an example such as: Arable Land for All (ALFA) is an NGO that advises government on land policy that will ensure that all our people have access to arable land. counselling and referrals throughout the country. Step 4: In plenary. felt-tipped pens and something to stick up your sheets of flip chart paper. Who. put up all the suggested mission statements and explain that you will come back to them once there is agreement on the overall goal and the immediate objectives of the organisation or project. what they are aiming to achieve and how they are aiming to achieve it. will we work with on an ongoing basis to achieve this?   Step 2: Participants should then write a statement which encompasses who they are. if anyone. ask participants to answer: Who do we expect to benefit from our work? (the main or primary target group). You need flip chart paper. Step 1: In groups. Step 3: Now ask them to put together the two steps in a mission statement with the four key components. Unless the group participating in the process is very small.org) 35 . The results from the current stage might be something like: Womenaid is a network of women’s organisations that helps tocreate a healthy environment for women and children who are physically or psychologically abused to reach their full potential by providing shelters. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. Ask participants: Why do you think it would be a mistake to finalise the mission statement now? The answer you are looking for is: Because the mission statement must reflect our agreement on goals and objectives and we still have to reach that. or Womenaid is a network of women’s organisations that helps to create a healthy environment for women and children to reach their full potential by providing shelters. counselling and referrals throughout the country.

This makes it clear where you want to get. if you identified as the core problem that you want to address the fact that there is an unacceptably high rate of crime in the community. an educational organisation and a small business organisation could both have this goal. To achieve it. you will need official figures for rates of different crimes when you begin and at various stages along the way. there are many different names for the different levels of goals and objectives. for example. including at the end of the five-year period. The overall goal is related to your vision. for example.org) 36 . In the case of the example given. So. The purpose of your strategy is to get you there or to make a significant contribution to getting there. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. On the next page you will find an exercise you could use to help you clarify the overall goal of your project or organisation. and Your immediate objective or the project purpose which describes the specific situation which the project or organisation hopes to bring about. then your overall goal might be: Rates for all crimes in our community decline significantly (by at least 50% within five years).Strategic Planning OVERALL GOAL Depending on what approach you are using. defining your immediate objective or project purpose. How do you know when your overall goal has been achieved? By setting indicators or signs that are measurable. the section on LFA in the toolkit: Overview of Planning. that you make the process specific to your organisation. Everything you do should have the long-term aim of bringing the crime rate down. you probably need a number of different organisations working towards it. It is to this end that the project or organisation exists. But this overall goal could be the overall goal for a number of organisations. You arrive at the overall goal by turning your significant problem statement into a positive statement and describing the situation that will exist when the problem has been addressed. (See. For example.) Here we are going to refer to:   Your overall goal which we are defining as the accumulated benefits which beneficiaries will enjoy when the development work is successful. (See Glossary of Terms for an explanation of indicators). It is in the next step. The overall goal is directly related to the significant problem you have identified in your problem analysis.

org) 37 . Step 2: Rewrite the problem statement as a positive situation. on a flip chart. Step 3: Write down what the indicators or signs will be that the overall goal has been achieved. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. Step 1: Refer back to the problem analysis and to the problem which you agreed as the significant focus for your activities. Now you have an overall goal for your work. If the problem did not exist what would the situation be? That is your overall goal. something you think you can work towards with confidence. then this should not take very long – probably only about 20 minutes in plenary.Strategic Planning  EXERCISE TO HELP YOU CLARIFY THE OVERALL GOAL OF YOUR ORGANISATION OR PROJECT If you have worked through covering the background carefully.

if this is what we want to achieve? On the next page. In this case you can use figures on employment/self-employment in your community when you start and figures after two years to measure your progress. by bringing down unemployment rates you can reduce crime. together. answering the question: What must we do. Your immediate objective needs to be measurable.org) 38 . In order to achieve your immediate objective. lead to the positive situation you desire. then your immediate objective is directly related to the causes of that problem.Strategic Planning IMMEDIATE OBJECTIVE If the overall goal is directly related to the significant problems you have identified in your problem analysis. then your immediate objective or project purpose may be based on the problem statement which says there is a high rate of unemployment in the area. then you have set the agenda of the organisation or project. there will be a drop in unemployment rates of at least 50% in our community. you believe that. you will find an exercise you could use to help you clarify the immediate objective of your project or organisation. You now need a strategy to help you achieve the objective and that is where your key result areas come in. Once you have your immediate objective. So. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. By now you should be able to see that there is a vertical (up/down) logic at work here: Overall goal achieved Immediate objective achieved Achieving the planned-for result areas The strategy is aimed at contributing to the achievement of the overall goal by achieving the immediate objective. it will make a difference to the significant problem identified. Based on your problem analysis. Your indicator is employment/self-employment rates. for example. if your overall goal is: Rates for all crimes in our community decline significantly (by at least 50% within five years) and your expertise lies in micro and small business development. you need to achieve certain results that will. You might word the immediate objective or purpose as: Within two years. The project or organisation assumes that by following this logic. This vertical logic is how you think strategically.

By adding in key result areas for the immediate objective. you will have a strategy for achieving your overall goal.Strategic Planning  EXERCISE TO HELP YOU CLARIFY THE IMMEDIATE OBJECTIVES OF YOUR PROJECT OR ORGANISATION If you have covered the background carefully. then this should not take very long. Step 3: Turn that significant problem into a positive statement. Step 2: Look at the problem analysis and at the significant problem that you identified as contributing to the undesirable situation (the opposite of your overall goal) and as something you could address. Now you have a path forward for achieving your overall goal. Step 1: Refer back to your overall goal. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. on a flip chart. probably only about 20 to 30 minutes in plenary.org) 39 . Step 4: Identify an indicator or indicators that make it possible to measure the achievement of the immediate objective.

then the immediate objective of increasing employment/self-employment will be achieved. as a result of what the project does. the following key result areas might apply:     Non-formal courses to teach skills for which there is a market niche are offered in the community. be changed. The project’s assumption (this is a methodological assumption) is that. then it can. If a particular strategy does not work.Strategic Planning KEY RESULT AREAS Key result areas define the outputs that are needed to achieve the immediate objective of a project or organisation. Many activities will go into ensuring that the outputs occur. That is why we say you need indicators for the successful achievement of Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. to achieving the goal. The project is guaranteeing that these courses will be run and it should be held accountable for making sure this happens. The result areas spell out the project’s strategy for reducing crime. So. A revolving fund to finance micro business set-ups is established in the community by a micro-financing company. A business hub (centre) has been created for the informal sector in the community. There are a number of elements and stages that will need to be monitored in order to know this. A business development/advisory service is available for informal sector businesses in the community. This makes monitoring and evaluation a very important part of a planning cycle. an output will be achieved. but it will take responsibility for seeing that they take place. The project may not run the courses itself. They include:   Monitoring that achieving the key results does lead to the immediate objective being achieved. You will notice that the key results are written as output statements – not “we will run courses”. if it achieves the outputs specified as key result areas. This is to emphasise that. for example. The project might do a survey to find out what the market niches are. put differently. but “courses are offered”. if your immediate objective is that employment/self-employment rates increase by 50%. and should. The project does not yet know whether or not the strategy will work. the project might arrange for a local technical college to offer appropriate skills courses. For example. and help to upgrade lecturers so that they can teach non-formal courses. Does a decrease in unemployment lead to a reduction in the crime rate? Why is it important to monitor this? Strategies are not set in stone. These result areas form the basis of the action planning that needs to take place (there is a separate toolkit on Action Planning). for example. The further assumption is that this will contribute towards the project’s overall goal of reducing crime.org) 40 . does strengthening local businesses increase employment opportunities? Monitoring whether achieving the immediate objective makes a difference to the problem identified or. So.

Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus.Strategic Planning your overall goal and your immediate objective. This is dealt with in detail in the toolkit on Monitoring and Evaluation.org) 41 . On the next page you will find an exercise you could use to help you decide on the key result areas for each of your immediate objectives.

but in determining what the outputs are for which the organisation or project needs to plan. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus.  Provide upgrading support to service providers to enable them to service the informal sector and micro-businesses. give the following example to show the difference between clarifying key result areas and action planning. If necessary.Strategic Planning  EXERCISE FOR TURNING AN IMMEDIATE OBJECTIVE INTO KEY RESULT AREAS You probably need about an hour to work out the result areas for your immediate objective. You will need flip chart paper. Non-formal courses to teach skills for which there is a market niche are offered in the community. You are deciding what key outputs need to be achieved if an immediate objective is to be met.org) 42 .: Overall goal: Reduction in crime Immediate objective: Key Result Area: Increased employment/self-employment .  Do a survey of businesses and needs to establish market opportunities. felt-tipped pens and something with which to stick the sheets up. This is not an exercise in action planning. Step 1: In plenary. ask participants to answer the following question: What are the key outputs that must be achieved if this objective is to be met? Step 2: In plenary.  Identify training service providers in three marketable skills. get the participants to check that the “vertical strategy” makes sense – that there is a legitimate assumption that each stage will lead to the next. Activities:  Do a survey of skills currently offered in the community. Point out that the organisation now has a strategy for achieving its overall goal.

you are in a position to:     Structure the organisation appropriately Identify where specific change management will be required Identify potential problems Clarify where to next.) By this we mean that you cannot decide how you should organise your work until you have a clear idea of what the work is going to be. One of the tools you could use here is a Gap Analysis (see the toolkit: Overview of Planning). When considering these issues it is important to remember that form follows function. Once you have a strategic plan.org) 43 .Strategic Planning Internal implications Now you can look at the internal implications of your strategic plan. (See this section in the toolkit: Overview of Planning. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus.

commitment. but most other people would be on the same level. The answers to these questions will help you to determine how to organise the way the work gets done. for example. If the people in the team are of roughly equal skill. an organisation that supported informal sector building contractors might put together a team that had technical expertise. there might be a Finance and Administration Department. Most organisations have a structure that has both hierarchical and team elements. Teams can take different forms. So. for example. training expertise and tendering expertise to help an association of informal sector contractors tender for a particular job. and everyone equally accountable for ensuring that the work gets done. or an Advocacy Unit. teams could take the form of departments that specialise in different kinds of work. and others are flatter.Strategic Planning STRUCTURE In the toolkit: Overview of Planning. or a Training Department.org) 44 . This only works in fairly small organisations. This may be determined by the strategic framework. An hierarchical structure is one in which people report to someone who has authority over them. Within organisations and projects. Team leadership is a way of developing confidence and skills in people who have never thought of taking leadership positions. where the team leader has authority. The successful completion of the work depends on the team members working together. Their reason for existing is to get a specific and clearly defined job done. Performance problems that affect a team should be referred back to the line manager. you will find a set of questions which you need to answer when you have completed the process of defining your strategic framework. also cut across specialisations to form multi-disciplinary teams. with many levels. so. This can work in a small organisation in which people have equal levels of skill and commitment. possibly. for example. however. The line manager is the person to whom someone reports and who is accountable for his/her performance. is needed. The teams could. and who is accountable for ensuring that other people do their jobs properly. Within an hierarchical organisation. The most important thing to remember about teams is that they are functional groups. then it is probably enough to have a co-ordinator. If there are discrepancies in skill and. or by specific jobs that need to be managed. A team leader’s authority does not cut across a line manager’s authority. So. under the section on Form follows Function. with everyone in the organisation at the same level. All functional teams need leaders. Some organisations are very hierarchical. there might be a director. Other organisations may decide not to be hierarchical at all. Each member of the team has a particular role which complements (fits together with) the role of other team members. but it does not work when people have different levels of skill and commitment. it is still possible to work in teams. That person is responsible for seeing that the team meets and that everything is on track. then something more hierarchical. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus.

they may need the implications of decisions explained to them afterwards. Respond to people’s ideas and feelings. Develop a planned process of change and share this with everyone in the organisation or project so that people know what to expect and when to expect it. support. If you cannot agree. either in terms of the work done or in the internal structuring of the work. Where the change affects people outside the organisation. explain it to these stakeholders as well. So. Let them express their concerns and respond to them.Strategic Planning CHANGE MANAGEMENT Your strategic planning process may result in some things in the organisation changing. Even if people have been part of the strategic planning process.org) 45 . make sure the civil society stakeholders understand why you have taken this decision and what the implications will be for you. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. if all your support has previously gone to civil society. When change is needed. Consult. Implement change. Acknowledge and celebrate successful change. but you have now decided it will be strategic to work with government as well. for example. the following steps should be followed:       Make sure everyone understands the change and why it is necessary. at least be empathetic about the feelings that are generated by change. give feedback during the change process. People struggle with change. and them. They may need help to accept and respond positively to change.

Failing that. Have a clear presentation that shows why the changes are considered necessary. and how you will deal with them. Focus on the strategic importance of the changes in terms of increasing impact on the problems the project or organisation is addressing. get retraining. explaining the changes. and give them support to cushion any negative impacts. Provided your expectations are reasonable. Explain the changes and why they were considered necessary. prepare a briefing document that can go out. Then.org) 46 . In addition to ensuring that you follow the labour legislation of your country. go and see those most likely to support the changes. Sometimes specific expertise and experience is needed. Follow the suggestions in change management. and the plans to address problems. how they will be implemented. This may mean employing new people or training existing staff or volunteers. Remember. along with possible solutions. having a good track record will stand you in good stead in such instances. or to a rationalisation of the organisation. Another option is to organise a one-off presentation for all your donors. Be prepared to deal with conflict in an empathetic (understanding). This may involve you in fundraising. Below we have listed some common problems with which you may have to deal. If the changes impact on beneficiaries. Each organisation or project will have its own set of problems. or negotiating with existing donors (see earlier). However. this problem should not be insurmountable. the thinking behind them. you need to get some influential Board members on your side. where staff and volunteers are interested. and how problems will be addressed. to get counselling. but firm and assertive way. then it may be necessary to make some staff members redundant. Potential problem Resistance from your Board to major changes Resistance from donors to major changes Resistance from staff to changes Resistance from beneficiaries to changes The need to make some staff redundant The need to raise additional funds The need for different/additional expertise Possible solution It would be best to have some Board members participating in the strategic planning process. Ask for Board input and support. Make sure you have thought through the financial implications. You need to decide which is most appropriate. if they would like it. and. For smaller donors. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. If the strategic planning process leads to a major re-orientation of the work. developing a financing strategy (there are special toolkits for both of these areas). you should also do everything you can to help redundant staff find alternative employment. Before the meeting at which you present the plan. every effort should be made to involve them in new areas of work. It may well be that your strategic planning process means the need to expand what the organisation is doing. rationalising other areas of work. If you have a few major donors. and you plan ahead of time. Present a plan to deal with possible problems. you need to explain them to the beneficiaries up-front.Strategic Planning POTENTIAL PROBLEMS No strategic plan will be implemented without hitches (problems). Do not think that you can train existing staff or volunteers to do anything and everything. what these are likely to mean. at the Board meeting. present the proposed changes. you need to make appointments with them to explain the proposed changes.

You have a framework within which to locate your activities but you still need to plan those activities. Many organisations and projects make the mistake of focusing all their energies on planning of activities. We hope that.Strategic Planning WHERE TO? You have now completed the strategic planning part of your planning process. If so. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. by the time you get to this stage in the toolkit you will be able to recognise the importance of strategic planning. This process is dealt with in the toolkit on Action Planning. teams or departments responsible for getting the work done. and of doing action planning in the context of a strategic framework. This is probably most effectively done in the units. you are ready to do your action planning.org) 47 . They see the strategic part of the process as “a waste of time”.

Strategic Planning BEST PRACTICE Examples AGENDA AGENDA FOR A FOUR-DAY STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS (This was a strategic planning process for an educational policy support NGO. DAY 1 Welcome and introductions (15 minutes) Input from Department of Education (20 minutes) Questions/Discussion (20 minutes) Input from National Association of School Governing Bodies (20 minutes) Questions/discussion (20 minutes) TEA (15 minutes) Summing up by facilitator (20 minutes) Clarification of problem analysis – in groups (30 minutes) Clarification of problem analysis – plenary (30 minutes) LUNCH (45 minutes) Team building exercise – my personal values regarding education (45 minutes) Summarised individual input (preparatory work) – presented by projects officer and senior administrator (25 minutes) Responses (15 minutes) Presentation by external evaluator (45 minutes) Discussion of conclusions and recommendations – small groups (30 minutes) Discussion of conclusions and recommendations – plenary (30 minutes) The way forward – summing up by the director (20 minutes) End of Day 1 DAY 2 SWOT Analysis – groups (30 minutes) SWOT Analysis – plenary (30 minutes) Clarifying the planning parameters – presentation by programmes manager (15 minutes) Clarifying the planning parameters – small groups (30 minutes) Clarifying the planning parameters – plenary (15 minutes) Identifying the critical issues – plenary (30 minutes) TEA (20 minutes) Developing a vision statement – groups (30 minutes) Developing a vision statement – plenary (30 minutes) Developing consensus on values – plenary (30 minutes) Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus.org) 48 . The director wanted to combine strategic planning with team-building).

org) 49 .Strategic Planning LUNCH (1 hour) Drafting a mission statement – groups (20 minutes) Drafting a mission statement – plenary (25 minutes) Clarifying our overall goal – plenary (20 minutes) Consolidation – how far have we gone? .facilitator (30 minutes) Clarifying our immediate objective – groups (20 minutes) TEA (20 minutes) Clarifying our immediate objective – plenary (20 minutes) Understanding the vertical logic of strategic planning – facilitator (30 minutes) Overnight work – teams to develop a new logo for the organisation End of Day 2 DAY 3 Presentation of logos (45 minutes) Key Result Areas – Input – Facilitator (30 minutes) Key Result Areas – group work (3 hours) TEA (30 minutes) Key Result Areas – group work (continued) LUNCH (1 hour) Key Result Areas – plenary presentations (2 hours) TEA (30 minutes) Consolidation – what is our strategy? – director (30 minutes) End of Day 3 DAY 4 Responses to strategy – group work (30 minutes) Responses to strategy – plenary (20 minutes) Form follows function: how should we organise our work? – group work to produce organograms (1 hour) Form follows function – plenary presentations and reaching consensus on structure (1 hour) TEA (20 minutes) Implications of structure – group work (30 minutes) Implications of structure – plenary (30 minutes) Identifying potential problems – plenary (30 minutes) LUNCH (1 hour) Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus.

org) 50 .Strategic Planning Dealing with problems: strategies for survival – groups (1 hour) Dealing with problems: strategies for survival – plenary (30 minutes) Consolidation – facilitator (30 minutes) Feedback on process (30 minutes) CLOSURE TEA End of Day 4 Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus.

Strategic Planning RESOURCES CIVICUS would like to acknowledge the following as invaluable resources in the preparation of this toolkit: Olive Publications Ideas for a Change: Part 1: How are you managing organisational change? July 1997 Olive Publications Ideas for a Change: Part 2: Organisation diagnosis December 1997 Olive Publications Project Planning for Development.org) 51 . Janet Evaluation: Judgement Day or Management Tool? Olive 1996 Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. Olive 1998 Shapiro.

with some kind of interest in the project or organisation. inspired. CIVICUS envisions a worldwide community of informed. All are available on-line. The topics range from budgeting. 2135 South Africa Tel: +27 11 833 5959 Fax:+27 11 833 7997 Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus. corner Quinn Street Newtown.org) 52 . CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is an international alliance established in 1993 to nurture the foundation. The means of verification (proof) is the officially published list of passes. in MS-Word and PDF format at www.org and on CD-ROM. These CIVICUS Toolkits have been produced to assist civil society organisations build their capacity and achieve their goals. for example. group or individual. For further information about CIVICUS: CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation 24 Pim Street.civicus. an increase in the number of students passing is an indicator of an improved culture of learning and teaching.Strategic Planning GLOSSARY OF TERMS Indicator An indicator is a measurable or tangible sign that something has been done. committed citizens in confronting the challenges facing humanity. So. growth and protection of citizen action throughout the world.O. Johannesburg 2001 South Africa P. PEST P E S T = = = = Political Economic Social Technological S M A R T = = = = = Specific Measurable Agreed upon (by everyone involved) Realistic Timebound SMART Stakeholders Anyone. to developing a financial strategy and writing an effective funding proposal. strategic planning and dealing with the media. Box 933 Southdale. especially in areas where participatory democracy and citizens’ freedom of association are threatened.

org Web: http://www.civicus.Strategic Planning 1112 16th NW. Strategic Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro (email: toolkits@civicus.org) 53 . Suite 540 Washington D.org We wish to acknowledge GTZ for its support in translating these toolkits into French and Spanish.C. 20036 USA Tel: +202 331-8518 Fax: +202 331-8774 E-mail: toolkits@civicus.