It’s that time of year again to look at the  “Strat Plan” to get everyone talking about values, vision statement, and mission statement for Strategic Planningwhen in reality it goes back on the shelf  to collect dust.

Is it going to be another RAH RAH party?

Is the activity of it going to make us feel warm and cozy inside?

Will it invoke enough fear to motivate us forward?

strategic planning

Or, is it going to be THE ONE that fuels the fire to execute plans to lead your association successfully in years to come. If you are a part of the strategic decision making process for your organization, keep reading, and reflect on how you’ve done things in the past and can consider how to reinvent how can do things in future.

Every strategic planning session is a RAVING successbecause it gives new purpose behind the direction however it doesn’t mean that anything will happen the following day. I’m convinced most strategic plans get put on pretty paper that never get ready again.


Here are some questions to consider:

  • When was the last time you saw the strategic plan for your organization?
  • How quickly can you access the strategic plan?
  • Does the plan make sense to the entire organization that seeks to understand?
  • Who is specifically held accountable for working towards the goals and deadlines?
  • When was the last time you asked your members if we are on track? Does this happen regularly?

Here are some reasons why Strategic Planning fails :

Lack of understanding

Let’s say you have your “Plan” which the facilitator and those select few involved in the creation are the only ones who truly understand it. I imagine not many members come knocking down your door for the strategic plan however those what question the existence, roles, an direction will need some explanation either face to face or online. If you post the plan online as a PDF that’s great however not very exciting is it?


Create a video of the plan that expresses it in a unique way. Involve description of process, accountabilities of those involved, and what to expect in years to come.  Or, create a slideshare presentation that summarizes the key bullet points of the plan, who is accountable and for what responsibilities, and how to give feedback to improve each objective.

Lack of Implementation

Associations are either staff driven, member driven, or some sort of hybrid model. Once the plan is created who is actually going to do the work? You might take it to a committee to determine the next direction but the problem is that committees do not have the ultimate decision making authority. Their opinion is passed to the Board of Directors for approval, gets another round of discussion, and possibly sent back to the committee for more. Little gets done.


Rethink the governance on how decisions are made within the association. A decision making group decides as a team, not as a committee of individuals making a decision. Take this strategic objective as an example “Serve as the primary gateway to drive economic activity in our region.” Are you going to send this to a committee or a decision making group? While governance might not be directly included in the strategic plan it definitely decide on how much gets done quickly.

Lack of accountability

Who holds each other accountable for the plan becoming realized? Surely the association executive is held accountable by the board of directors, the board is accountable to the members, but who holds the members accountable for making sure the association is on the right path? By the way the answer isn’t surveys. I’m sent at least one survey a week from everything I participate in and don’t have time for another. Yearly, semi-annual and quarterly feedback isn’t enough especially in the world we live in today.


Breakdown the strategic objectives and ask them regularly in Facebook if the association is on target. Ask for feedback Face to face you write down to share later. Create a Google Voice private line for members to send in confidential feedback. Make lists of the feedback and post that in a blog post and share to get more feedback. Feedback is the driver for accountability and must be requested, acknowledged, and results reported to make sure the entire association is on track.

Lack of leadership

One of the biggest challenges organizations face today is finding new talent who have the skill sets and the profile to be a trusted leader in their community. The tightened economy and hurried schedules have made it more difficult to persuade others to volunteer their time. How do you find people to serve and follow through with their commitments? Duress, medication, and blackmail are not valid remedies.


Recruitment should be replaced with the word identification. After you find someone who you believe exemplifies leadership potential pick up the phone and ask to meet face to face. Ask provocative questions and be quiet.

Here are some questions to consider:

  1. What is the one in this industry you wish could be solved today or tomorrow?
  2. Which tools or resources do you use most frequently in your business? How could they be better?
  3. Which legislation are you most concerned about and how is it affecting you right now?

Books I recommend reading:

Leadership Isn’t for Cowards by Mike Staver

Leadership by Choice by Eric Papp

Up, Down, or Sideways by Mark Sanborn


Organizations bring in Doug Devitre from St. Louis, Missouri USA when they want to dramatically increase operational performance, create breakthrough value propositions, and serve customers beyond geographical constraints on a minimal budget. For more than a decade he has been setting trends with how organizations engage customers with social media, video marketing, and custom-built software applications. Doug’s book Screen to Screen Selling published by McGraw Hill pioneered the way sales professionals sold homes without being physically present before the COVID-19 pandemic. He is one of a select few who have earned the Certified Speaking Professional Designation from the National Speakers Association and has experience as a REALTOR.

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