By: Jeremy Turner, MBA – Founder & Managing Director of EPIC Mission, Inc.
Strategy is a term that gets thrown around willy-nilly in boardrooms, classrooms and locker rooms across the globe, and the term has become a buzzy, fuzzy piece of jargon with no concrete meaning. Let’s see if we can’t clear the air a bit by offering a simple definition, investigating the basic elements of strategy, laying out the primary and advanced components of a strategic plan and setting a couple of essential expectations around strategy.
Simply defined, strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a specific goal or set of goals. Strategies may be short-term or longer-term and may be applied towards individuals, communities, organizations, etc. As this definition relates to an organization, either nonprofit or for-profit, this plan of action may be designed around desirable goals that perpetuate the organizational mission such as the acquisition of a set number of new ideal clients, the launching of a new program or service, or the organizational expansion into a new geographic or demographic area. The goals may be huge and life-altering, or they can be simpler and less imposing.
The plan of action itself must contain a vision for the future, an inventory of where the organization stands right now relative to said vision and a set of clear action steps that will lead the organization towards this defined future state. These are the bare essentials of any plan. Plans may also include additional elements such as mission and vision statements, statements of impact, organizational values, internal capacity assessments and external environmental assessments, for example.
Though certain situations may dictate a more complex composition, don’t believe the hype that plan effectiveness is directly linked to plan complexity. More complex plans have an increased number of points where the plan can go off the rails, and the complexity itself is often intimidating or confusing for those tasked with putting the plan into motion. Plans don’t matter if they aren’t implemented. A complex plan that remains on a shelf is far less impactful than a rudimentary napkin drawing that can be put into action today. Implementation rules, beauty is a bonus.
Too often, organizational planning is needlessly cumbersome as leadership seeks to craft the perfect plan and avoid failure at all cost. Perfection is not real and holding out for perfection can stagnate momentum. Failure is real because plans and life never match. The world of entrepreneurship models that failure will be your best teacher if you embrace the opportunity to discover what not to do again or to possibly stumble into an amazing innovation. It’s the journey of discovery within the planning and plan implementation processes that are of most value as organizations come together to reimagine and reinvent their future and become reinvigorated about why they exist in the first place.
So, if you wish to amplify impact within your organization, keep things as simple as possible, forget about perfection, embrace the journey of discovery, put your plan into motion and fail forward towards your next growing season.
Jeremy Turner is the Founder & Managing Director of EPIC Mission, Inc. a coaching and consulting firm for impact-driven entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and small businesses. As one of our valued community partners, Jeremy and EPIC Mission, Inc. will be working in collaboration with MD Andersen, CPA, PA this month to bring you more information and topics to consider regarding strategy in the business world. To learn more about Jeremy Turner or EPIC Mission, Inc. please visit their website at https://yourepicmission.com/
You can also find his bio at https://www.mdandersencpa.com/community-partners/