The problem with strategic planning

Marty offers a good rant on the problems with “strategic planning” in the nonprofit sector:

>Most nonprofit directors have a very clear “off the record” opinion of the strategic plan process. They are frustrated with the funds that have been dumped into consultants and non-profit groups for strategic development and planning which typically look at the organization as a stand alone unit in a world of competing interest. They also feel the plans do not account for the real life variability and opportunity that exists in the nonprofit sector.

>Most strategic planning seems to throw away instincts of field leaders and create a competitive and hostile environment for building network capacity. The strongest plans typically lead to the destruction of social capital between groups because by design they eliminate the option to work on unrelated work for friends.

Marty’s point is an important one — it’s not whether we should do planning, but what kind of planning that should be. Marty believes — and I’m inclined to agree — that our planning should focus much more on collaboration, innovation, and creating room to embrace unexpected opportunities.

This will require some new thinking and learning on the part of strategic planning consultants, those who fund them — and those who consume their services.