Nonprofit Planning: Be Tight on the Ends and Loose on the Means - dummies

Nonprofit Planning: Be Tight on the Ends and Loose on the Means

By Erica Olsen

“Being tight on the ends” involves building a strong commitment and understanding of objectives and goals of your organization and its board. Although you write the objectives and goals in ink, create the action items in pencil. Allow those who are responsible for the goals — that is, your board — to develop their own methods to best achieve the goals. Hence, be “loose on the means.”

Many strategic planning experts recognize the importance of flexibility and authority in the implementation of a strategic plan. Those people involved in the implementation process need to have enough flexibility and authority to be creative and responsive to new developments — without having to reconstruct an entire strategic plan.

Flexibility is important because adjustments are necessary when planning for an uncertain future. An organization’s objectives and goals are much less likely and far more difficult to change than the programs and activities planned to achieve them.

Say, for example, that an organization’s goal is to increase new customers by 10 percent this month. In order to achieve this goal, corporate headquarters creates a sales promotion as an action item. The local employees realize that a major conflicting event is occurring in their community that may hinder the success of their promotion.

Clearly, those responsible for implementing the promotion need to adjust the program plan without changing the original goal (to increase new customers). Among their options are an extended promotion or a new date altogether.