A Case for Strategic Planning at Sunset Community: Where Are We Going?

Many organizations get to step five in the strategic planning process, and their progress stalls. They begin the journey with gusto, happily completing steps one through four, but once a discussion of metrics occurs, their enthusiasm wanes quickly. Don’t let this be the case for your nonprofit’s strategic planning journey!

It wasn’t the case for Sunset Community.

Sunset’s Organization Development Director Sue Jones kept her strategic planning team on task with the next—and potentially most difficult—step in the plan development phase.

Step Five: Determining strategic measures using a balanced scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a set of measurements that track an organization’s progress toward its goals. It gives leaders a fast but comprehensive view of the business by honing in on four important perspectives and a handful of critical measures.

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With the new mission, vision, and value proposition as guiding doctrine, Sue and her team drafted a BSC for Sunset Community. They followed a thorough and iterative process to capture only the most critical goals and align them with succinct measures.

  • Executive interviews: Sue assigned the role of facilitator to a senior leader on the strategic planning team. The facilitator conducted 90-minute interviews with the organization’s senior executives to obtain each leader’s input on the company’s strategic goals, using the following guiding questions:
    • If we succeed with our vision and strategy, how will we look different to our stakeholders and customers in terms of our internal processes and ability to innovate and grow?
    • What are the critical success factors in each of the four scorecard perspectives?’
    • What are the key measurements that will tell us whether or not we’re addressing those success factors as planned?
  • Preliminary draft: The facilitator consolidated and documented the output from the executive interviews. After reviewing this information, the strategic planning team drafted a preliminary BSC with operational measures for the strategic objectives.
  • Team planning workshop: The strategic planning team debated the tentative scorecard. In small groups, members discussed the proposed measures and linked them to existing and new programs.
  • Executive workshop: The senior executive team, along with several members of the Board of Directors, met to give final approval for the BSC.
  • Implementation: The strategic planning team developed an implementation plan, linking goals and their measures to action steps.

Below are a couple of examples from each quadrant of Sunset’s final BSC. You’ll see that they are tied to the SPOT and in many cases are high-level, requiring detailed action plans, specific targets, and outcomes to track progress.

Internal Perspective
Goals Measures
Increase employee retention Decrease staff turnover from 30% in 2014 to 25% in 2015
Build program repertoire Develop one new client program focused on physical well-being by the end of the year
Customer Perspective
Goals Measures
Increase client satisfaction Receive 100% satisfaction rate on client surveys
Maintain positive brand reputation Launch marketing strategy to communicate revised mission, vision, and values
Innovation and Learning Perspective
Goals Measures
Adapt to changing technologies Secure e-readers and tablets for residents’ use
Plan for expansion Research land availability and present options to Board by Q3 2015

Sue can’t believe her team has come this far! She has one more step to guide them through, and then their strategic plan development will be complete. Stay tuned for the final phase of Sunset’s journey.

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