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» Developing a Strategic Plan and Organizational Structure » Chapter 8. Developing a Strategic Plan » Section 4. Developing Successful Strategies: Planning to Win » Main Section
Chapter 8
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Chapter 8 Sections

What is a strategy?

A strategy is a way of describing you are going to get things done. It is less specific than an action plan (which tells the who-what-when); instead, it tries to broadly answer the question, "How do we get there from here?" (Do we want to take the train? Fly? Walk?)

A good strategy will take into account existing barriers and resources (people, money, power, materials, etc.). It will also stay with the overall vision, mission, and objectives of the initiative. Often, an initiative will use many different strategies--providing information, enhancing support, removing barriers, providing resources, etc.--to achieve its goals.

Objectives outline the aims of an initiative--what success would look like in achieving the vision and mission. By contrast, strategies suggest paths to take (and how to move along) on the road to success. That is, strategies help you determine how you will realize your vision and objectives through the nitty-gritty world of action.

What are the criteria for developing a good strategy?

Strategies for your community initiative should meet several criteria.

Does the strategy:

Why develop strategies?

Developing strategies is really a way to focus your efforts and figure out how you're going to get things done. By doing so, you can achieve the following advantages:

When should you develop strategies for your initiative?

Developing strategies is the fourth step in the VMOSA (Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Action Plans) process outlined at the beginning of this chapter. Developing strategies is the essential step between figuring out your objectives and making the changes to reach them. Strategies should always be formed in advance of taking action, not deciding how to do something after you have done it. Without a clear idea of the how, your group's actions may waste time and effort and fail to take advantage of emerging opportunities. Strategies should also be updated periodically to meet the needs of a changing environment, including new opportunities and emerging opposition to the group's efforts.

How do you develop strategies?

Once again, let's refer back to our friends at the fictional Reducing the Risk (RTR) Coalition that hopes to reduce the risk of teenage pregnancy in its community. We'll walk through the process of developing strategies with this group so as to better explain the who, what, and why of strategies.

As with the process you went through to write your vision and mission statements and to set your objectives, developing strategies involves brainstorming and talking to community members.

Organize a brainstorming meeting with members of your organization and members of the community

Remember, people will work best in a relaxed and welcoming environment. You can help achieve this by:

The RTR Coalition held brainstorming sessions among organization members. They invited local teens, parents, teachers, counselors, church members, and other community leaders to participate in listening sessions. These were used to help develop strategies to reduce the risk of teen pregnancy. Homemade cookies, fruit, and coffee helped make participants feel welcome.

Review (identify) the targets and agents of change for your initiative

Review your vision, mission, and objectives to keep you on the right track

It is helpful to review your mission, vision, and objectives to ensure that your strategies are all aligned with the goals expressed in your previous work.

Work together to brainstorm the best strategies for your initiative

The following list of questions can be a guide for deciding on the most beneficial strategies for your group:

Let's look at the strategies proposed by the members of the RTR Coalition to prevent teen pregnancy.

Things to note about the RTR strategies:

Check your proposed strategies for completeness, accuracy, and whether they contribute to the vision, mission, and objectives

Example: The strategies of the RTR Coalition



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