Can you please describe the roles that staff and board members play in the strategic planning process?

Answer: Thank you for your question, Susan. As you are aware, strategic planning is the process of establishing longer-term goals for an organization – typically for a three period. Strategic planning is important for all organizations as it helps to provide a context for the day-to-day efforts of staff and volunteers, and ensure that these efforts are consistent with the organization’s mission and operational activities.

Now, down to your question. What roles do the staff and board play in strategic planning? Generally speaking, the board of directors OWNS the organization’s strategy/strategic plan, and the executive director/CEO and staff operationalize or implement it. Sometimes we say, “the board is responsible for THE WHAT and the staff is responsible for THE HOW“. One of the most important ways to involve other stakeholders in strategy development/strategic planning is through an environmental scan and consultation. During this part of the process, data is collected from a full range of stakeholders including management and front-line staff, volunteers, partners, clients/constituents, funders, and donors. This data is used to inform the process and provide 360-degree insight into the organization’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities, threats and critical issues facing the organization.

On an ongoing basis, it is important for the executive director/CEO to report back to the board on progress of the strategy/strategic plan implementation. Also, it is essential that the board undertakes an annual process to scan the changing environment, review and if necessary, refine the organization’s strategic priorities.

Please keep in the mind that all organizations are different. Organization size, structure and available resources can all be a factor in how a strategic planning process is carried out.