Your nonprofit needs a loveable operations plan
Posted on: April 17, 2018 at 10:23 am

By Covita Moroney, CFRE

A story…

Energized by a fresh, inspiring vision and spot-on strategic goals (carefully crafted at the amazing two-day Board / Staff planning retreat) you hit the office filled with fire-in-the-belly. Determined to bring to life the wonderful vision (after you first check email and voice messages, return a few calls, and sort through the mail) you plan to gather staff and announce the implementation of the organization’s new three-Year Strategic Plan!

Three weeks later, you have finally caught up with the emails and messages. A few minutes before a lunch meeting with the Executive Committee you are searching your desk for the file and notes from the planning retreat. The time has come to start the work, and everyone is looking to you to lead the way to even greater impact. But, where to start? When to start? Who will share the work?

Enter the Operations Plan.

The above story has, to some degree, been lived by us all. This is why, as much as Lee+ Associates delights in facilitating our clients’ work to develop an impactful Strategic Plan, we absolutely LOVE counseling clients when they channel the inspiration into an Operations Plan. Unless and until the goals of the Strategic Plan are placed into an implementation management document — with strategic goals, milestone objectives, and granular action items — only then can an organization succeed in transforming the big vision into reality.

An effective Operations Plan is a management document that does four things:

  1. Captures the goals set forth in the planning phase
  2. Establishes SMART* objectives that will lead to those goals
  3. Holds all players accountable to complete their specific assigned action items
  4. Tracks the progress through set start/end dates and team member assignments

Committed to success, our clients have caught the love and embraced the Operations Plan, which can be seen as the “deliverable” of strategic planning. Without this essential tool to put everyone on the same path, doing their part according to the plan, holding all accountable to their commitments and to the calendar, the vision and strategic goals will be difficult to achieve. Without an Operations Plan, the Strategic Plan will likely sit on the shelf.

Most of our Lee+ Associates strategic planning clients are provided an Operations Plan management tool. Out of our commitment to clients’ success, we developed a custom Operations Plan application to manage all levels of the strategic plan implementation. It is a cloud-hosted app, accessible from a web browser (e.g., Chrome or Safari). Clients enter their goals, objectives, and action items – event team assignments can be tracked. Available to any user with a laptop or smartphone, Strategic Plan committee members, Board and Staff are able to log their accomplishments, and view the status of the plan.

Your passion for your organization’s mission is the most valuable asset there is. All of us at Lee+ Associates are cheering for you, and encourage you to channel that passion. Take time to apply a bit of discipline at the beginning of your implementation. Make a Loveable Operations Plan the natural next step after your strategic planning retreat.

*SMART Objectives have five characteristics. They are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.