We regard strategic planning as essential to the success of any organization. Without a plan for future growth and direction there is a danger, and ultimately an absolute certainty, of aimless drifting.
All too often voluntary membership organizations turn to strategic planning to correct serious problems. This is ironic, because the philosophy behind strategic planning is to avoid the problems in the first place. The proper time to start the planning process is when an organization is in the formation stage, or when an established organization is still growing and successful.
Strategic planning, like engineering, is a structured process. In fact, it can be argued with considerable merit that strategic planning is really a specialized form of value analysis, i.e., determining what the organization needs to accomplish, then devising the most efficient way to achieve the established goals. In strategic planning the group moves step by step toward a realistic understanding of the essential functions of the organization and establishment of a workable action plan for achieving short-, medium-, and long-term objectives. A plan not only covers methods to be used, but also incorporates continuing monitoring of progress, and provisions for adapting to changing conditions.
Development of the strategic plan begins with an initial meeting. Strengths and weaknesses are identified; environmental factors affecting the group and its members are defined. Members and prospective members are surveyed, and their expressed needs are incorporated into the process. Ultimately quantitative and qualitative objectives are stated. Action sequences and timetables for achieving the goals complete the initial plan.
The people of AMC have assisted many voluntary membership organizations in their strategic planning function. In some cases the plans that emerged were responsible for revitalizing organizations. In other cases the strategic plan helped successful groups maintain their momentum.