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Mission, vision and strategic planning

Peter Drucker, a leading expert in management theory says that there are two questions that every organization must answer.

1. What is our business?

2. What will our business be?

The first question has to do with mission (i.e. what we do and why); the second, with vision (i.e. the aspiration to grow, improve or advance in some meaningful way).

It is common for an organization to come to AAI and say that they are interested in raising funds. Exactly what the funds are to be raised for is often more obscure. While mission may be clear and there may be a notion of a building or program to be funded, the desired outcome is not clearly linked to a vision of what the organization can accomplish if the new project becomes reality.

Visioning is a critical first step of a strategic planning process, helping an organization revisit whom and how it has served, refine its mission in the context of the current environment and reveal what it hopes to become in the next stage of its existence.

What then is strategic planning? A strategic plan is the road map of actions necessary to move the organization toward its vision.

To illustrate, when planning a vacation, we picture in our minds a particular experience at a specific destination. If it stops there, it is nothing more than wishful thinking. To make it happen, we need a plan that includes goals and action steps: What date will we leave? What route will we take? What vehicle will we need and who will drive? If we work the plan, we’re much more likely to end up having the desired experience at the chosen destination.

A strategic plan may be divided into a series of one-year plans, each of which outlines the steps to be taken that year. Plans will need to be evaluated and adapted to emerging realities in order for an organization to achieve its vision.

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Ingredients of a successful strategic visioning retreat

What follows is an interview Associate Dan Hess (JDH) conducted with former AAI Principal Jerry Kennell following a visioning retreat held at Philadelphia Mennonite High School (PMHS).

JDH: Let’s begin at the beginning. What is strategic visioning, Jerry?

Kennell: Farmers don’t plow anymore, but when they did, they made straight furrows by picking a fence post or some other fixed mark on the horizon and locking their sight directly on this mark. Strategic visioning is a process to name the fence posts on the horizon for an organization, the key landmarks that will focus all organizational efforts to accomplish mission over a substantial stretch of time. Good planning is rooted firmly in the right strategic vision. Continue reading Ingredients of a successful strategic visioning retreat