Strategic Thinking

Strategic Planning Tips for Staff & Teams:

Hyper-focused:

Get hyper-focused both individually and as a team to increase the ability to produce desired outcomes and staff morale.  There are a variety of approaches that staff teams and managers can utilize to improve their management capabilities and outcomes. 

The Job Post: 

Define the purpose of each job function, prioritize the work, and standardize each function across the organization. This will ensure everyone is operating from a place of common understanding and alleviate workload fatigue. 

Process Improvement: 

Define and build understanding of existing processes. The more managers and staff define the existing processes, the more they will be able to improve or change them for better service delivery or operational functionality.

Data Collection: 

Technology is affording us the ability to capture information and data and, perhaps in the very near future, the ability to monetize the data. In order to capture data, senior leadership will need to provide the proper systems, but then it will be up to managers and staff to determine what data is relevant to producing outcomes for clients.

Outcomes: 

In order to generate data, improve processes, and ensure staff are focused on what is important, teams need to first define what types of outcomes they want to generate and for whom. Only then can the discussion begin around what data points feed those outcomes and how will operations need to change to achieve them.

Strategic Planning Tips for Senior Leadership:

Strategic Focus: 

Focus on the big picture, meaning organization-wide initiatives. Capacity is critical to successful implementation so focusing on a smaller number of large initiatives will achieve the greatest impact. 

Structural Alignment: 

Be sure to align organizational structure to strategy. In order to drive change and alignment to strategy, there are instances when organizational structure must be fundamentally shifted. While this can create tension and challenges, it will ultimately create a solid foundation for continued growth and future viability. 

Staffing Talent: 

Develop a talent acquisition strategy for hiring from outside the organization. The process of fulfilling strategy can, at times, require organizations to bring in talent that cannot be found internally. Introducing new talent, which brings different skills or management style, can disrupt or generate change in organizational culture. Having a comprehensive strategy for integrating new talent in to an organization is critical to implementation success. 

Systems: 

Consistently assess whether the right systems are in place to manage from and to deliver outstanding service. The systems we use to govern operations have the ability to alter behavior and shift workflow into new directions. The advancement of technology means these systems are constantly evolving 

Resource Allocation: 

Move resources to areas of strategic investment to ensure proper utilization and return. With many of the big paradigm shifts happening in every sector and industry, designing strategic plans can involve a significant amount of risk taking with new business models or services. Establishing the proper utilization of resources will help ensure investments are forecasted and understood thus increasing the speed of decision making

The Heat is On!

The pace of mergers and collaborations in the market is heating up. Costs, regulations, technology, and the need for talent are now leading many to the conclusion that merger strategy is an option to be considered when planning for future sustainability. So much so, in fact, that the majority of leaders we speak with are now including the topic as part of their Board of Directors meeting agendas. 

As anyone with merger experience knows, they are complex and involve many moving parts. From the initial strategy conversations concerning the reasons to merge, all the way through to how to successfully integrate two organizational cultures, people, and systems; we have found that preparation is key and experience is essential. 

Long before any strategic discussions take place, Leaders must determine their organization’s merger readiness. Knowing the As-Is state of an organization will dictate both when merger discussions should take place and with whom.  Leaders must know and be able to answer the following 7 questions as the first step in the merger process:

  1. Why would we consider merging at this point in time? 

  2. What is the business case and strategic value for a merger?

  3. What are our strengths and weaknesses as an organization?

  4. What are we looking for from a partner?

  5. Would we considered being acquired? Merging with an organization of similar size? Or acquiring a smaller organization?

  6. Is there value to merging with a partner outside our sector or with an organization that provides the same services?

  7. What opportunities exist in the market now and do they align with our strategic need?

While these are some of the most difficult questions to answer, they are also the most important.   Having a clear and concise view of an organization’s merger readiness will reduce frustrations and increase efficiency when initial discussions begin. 

Mergers in the nonprofit sectors often have different considerations compared to the for-profit world. In addition, we have found that organizations can face dramatic differences in the level at which Leaders, Boards, and Stakeholders are engaged and participate in the process.

We recommend that Board of Directors be intentional and clear with merger strategy to ensure all Board members and key Leaders are operating with a common understanding. It is critical that all parties involved have clarity on the answers to the questions below when moving forward and setting terms for a potential merger agreement:

  1. What are we willing to consider regarding leadership changes?

  2. What are we willing to consider with regard to our brand?

  3. What are we willing to consider for Board seats?

A successful merger or collaboration between organizations of any size can: eliminate competition, expand service offerings, acquire talented staff, reduce expenses, improve quality of service, expand geographic reach, diversify revenue, improved service delivery, and allow for greater investment in technology.

Most importantly, a merger or collaboration can ensure survival in a highly competitive marketplace and allow organizations to remain relevant and viable in the years ahead.