In our final video interview about strategic plans we talk to Joey Brady of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA). After six years as Executive Director, Joey still considers himself a relative newcomer to the 100-year-old organization.

Because of their highly-engaged member base, NASAA (they had the name first) wanted to work with an outside partner to facilitate their strategic plan. An outside partner can help facilitate conversations and make sure people aren’t just saying what their friends want to hear.

The strategic plan was put into play in January 2020. Despite the pandemic, Joey feels like they’re still working the plan. He feels it’s been easier to implement the plan because each item is tied to a specific goal.

To watch the full interview, and get Joey’s advice on developing a thick skin, watch the video below. To start your own strategic planning process, considering downloading our ebook on strategic plans below, or scheduling a free consultation.

Transcription

Liz: Hi. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, your organization, and a little bit about the work that NASAA does?
Joey: You bet. So my name is Joseph Brady. I go by Joey. I’m the executive director of the North American Securities Administrators Association. The acronym is N-A-S-A-A, and I jokingly say we had it first. We were formed in 1919, long before even people thought about space travel. Or maybe they did think about it in 1919. But anyway, my membership is 67 members. They are the state securities administrators as well as the securities regulators in Canada and Mexico. So yeah, that’s who we are and that’s who our members are.
Liz: Great. Thanks. So what made you decide to use an outside firm to facilitate your strategic planning process?
Joey: So as an organization, we’ve done strategic planning, but mostly internal. And I thought it would be important to reach out to someone to do it– to facilitate it likely, I think, because we were at some pivot points, and it would be helpful to have that outside voice, that third party that maybe doesn’t bring with that discussion sort of the friendships or engagements that some of our members have with one another over years that might prohibit them from being maybe, perhaps, perfectly honest in their conversations about what’s good for the organization overall. Plus just knowing that this really is a complicated area. It can be kind of fraught from time to time, and having that expert opinion.
Liz: Great. So would you say that there were any happy surprises along your strategic planning journey?
Joey: So yeah, at the very start, as part of the process there were some broader strategies used. They did a comprehensive survey of stakeholders to generally assess their level of satisfaction with the association as members and then reputationally, just to try to understand how we were perceived, what people thought of us sort of in the community in which we work. And it was quite positive, so it let us know sort of at the beginning that we were making adjustments. We weren’t making wholesale changes to our organization or trying to undertake some significant course corrections. So I think having that at the very beginning, it could have gone either way, I suppose, but that was a happy surprise at the start of the process.
Liz: Was there anything that now, looking back sort of retrospectively, you would say, “Gosh, we would have done that differently”?
Joey: Our process obviously wasn’t perfect. You can always do things better. But I think we did it pretty well. I might have done more engagement with the members on a micro level, and what I mean by that is just maybe– we did a one-day session with the members, and we even did it in sort of a group and then we broke off into smaller groups. We probably could have done that over a couple of days, not saying that we could have filled up those days. Maybe partial days instead of sort of this marathon long-day session, and then maybe process the feedback a little bit more. Perhaps that would have been a change that we might have made when looking back on it.
Liz: Okay. So one of the things that we hear when people go through strategic planning is they end up with this document that just sort of sits on a shelf. So the million-dollar question is, how are you guys using your plan? Do you feel like it’s something that’s guiding you, or is it sitting on a shelf with so many other plans?
Joey: Well, so we’re not that far into it. And my organization is, historically, a very grassroots organization. The members are very involved in the work we do and our role in supporting the work that they do. So it’s very, very involved from a membership level. So after we got the higher level plan with our goals in it, we engaged in a pretty grassroots-level effort to get feedback from our members on not only where they thought the responsibilities for those goals would lie, like what groups or what stakeholders within our overall organization, but the timing, prioritization if you will, of those goals. So after we did that, we developed a fairly detailed implementation plan, so laying out a task that were tied to a goal and the committees or individuals or entities responsible for completing those and then the timeframe. So we pulled all of that together and got it cleared by our board earlier this year. So that was January 2020. And so I have a staff person who works directly with me and helping to engage with the committees on how they’re doing with the goals, sort of nudging them along where they need to or helping them rethink as necessary. And so that started in January, latest January. We’ve actually made pretty good progress. And obviously, things sort of went sideways in March when our office, as well as our members, reverted to 100% remote working environments and things became a little more difficult to do. But otherwise, we’ve been working our plan. My staff and I still talk about it. We engage with our board about it. We report to our members about it. So it is, at least right now, still very much a living, breathing document.
Liz: That’s great. That is music to my ears. Anything else that you’d like to share or any advice that you might offer to other executive directors, CEOs that are thinking about embarking on a strategic planning process?
Joey: Well, so I mean, I’m a relatively new executive director. I’ve been at my job a little less than six years, and there are some EDs out there who were steeped in the strategic planning process. So I wouldn’t begin to try to advise them on it. But if you were someone like me who is newish in this role, I think it’s really important to have that outside expert help guide you through this process, to advise you when you come across hurdles or when you get stuck. That’s very helpful. So I would certainly say, at least give it some thought about retaining an outside person, and I can share that we had a great experience working with broader strategies. And the other piece of that too is if you’ve got a thick skin, picking it up a little bit more as you go through this process, just be prepared to hear some things that, maybe, are a little bit critical, even in areas where you think you might be doing really well. But take that for the way it’s meant in most instances, which is how you can do things better, not as a personal insult to the way things are going. So that’d be about it, I think.
Liz: That’s a great insight. Thanks so much, Joey. I appreciate your time today.

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy and making decisions on how to allocate its resources (staff, budget, programs, and services) to pursue that strategy.

The strategic planning process in nonprofit organizations consists of three main components: plan development, plan execution, and plan review. This guide will take you through the process, which includes crafting organization mission, vision, and values statements; conducting a strengths, problems, opportunities, and threats (SPOT) analysis; developing a balanced scorecard with measures to track strategic goals; writing and communicating the strategic plan; and executing and reviewing the plan.

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