For Impact


Strategic Planning v. Strategic Clarity

For Impact Ideas | | Nick Fellers

Note: I first posted this last year. Posting again because I’m still tired of reading lengthy strategic plans that don’t derive-from or result-in real strategic clarity.

  • In past year have been with several foundations that have asked orgs for ‘strategic plans’. Speaking to the foundations directly, I can say that what they’re really asking for is STRATEGIC CLARITY — not 40 pages of ‘stuff’. It’s a vocab issue.

  • IMPACT drives INCOME. In order to get funding results we [The Suddes Group] always have to back our way into helping an organization get REAL strategic clarity so that we have a clean strategy, message and case for support for funders. Funding, at the point, then simply becomes about execution. We can coach and train people to execute.


Strategic Plan v. Strategic Clarity

Think about the difference in these two terms.

Every organization needs strategic clarity and a 1000-day action plan. They need to have everyone on the same page about:

  • The purpose (the WHY) and the vision (the ultimate goal) (at 30,000’).

    This should fit on a napkin.

  • No more than THREE* simple strategic priorities (at 14,000’) that advance the organization toward the goal, aligning with purpose.

    These should fit on the back of that napkin.

    *Drucker was even simpler. He said every organization should have at most TWO priorities… WOW!

  • A 100-day (near term) plan of action tied to each priority and a 1000-day plan of action with benchmarks that run more fluid for quarterly review.

    This should fit on one sheet of paper (maybe two) if you stay at the strategic level.

Every day I talk with someone that needs or wants a ‘strategic plan’. I can’t identify with that term anymore because it means so many different things. In each case though, they need clarity and simplicity. Only about half the time do they need to do a lot of consensus building (think: visits, dialogue and time) to bring everyone on the same page.

Over simplified? No.

Easy? No.