By IAAP Executive Director Don Bretthauer, CAE
The following steps outline a practical approach to strategic planning for IAAP chapters. By adopting an annual strategic plan, your chapter will have a guide for future leadership and an outline to guarantee on-going member satisfaction.
Note: Participants at planning sessions should include both board and chapter members.
Review any existing or past strategic plan and ask the following questions:
- Were the goals and objectives met?
- If goals and objectives were not met, discuss the barriers that prevented their accomplishment and what might have been done differently to achieve them.
Determine the primary groups your chapter serves. What member categories, segments, or special populations does your chapter include? Brainstorm with your strategic planning group and use a flip chart to list your key constituents (both current members and prospective members). For example, you might have a majority of professional members, but some may be entry-level admins and others may have many years of experience. You may also have student members and retirees involved in your chapter. It may not be possible to provide programs and services which equally benefit all of these groups. From your list of key constituents, determine your primary and secondary target groups. This will help you establish priorities in providing chapter programs and services.
Conduct an environmental scan by looking at the following issues:
Threats--What are the greatest threats to your chapter? What type of workplace or demographic trends are affecting your membership? Identify items such as national and local economic factors, corporate/business environment, lack of public awareness of chapter programs and services, and lifestyle factors of today's (and tomorrow's) admins.
Opportunities--With the same approach, identify trends that favor your chapter. Examples include identifying local businesses with a large number of non-member administrative staff, a shortage of training opportunities for admins in your community, and technologies which make communication easier between chapter members.
Strengths--Identify strengths of your chapter. Examples may include the enthusiasm of leaders and committee volunteers, ready assistance from your division officers and Headquarters staff, and top-notch chapter educational programs and networking events.
Weaknesses--Identify your chapter's weaknesses. Examples may be fewer members volunteering for leadership roles, a lack of chapter focus on membership growth, and decreasing quality of programs.
Discover common themes that emerge from the environmental scan. What are the issues that deserve the chapter's attention? What opportunities should you focus on? How can you improve existing chapter programs and services?
Agree on two or three issues that you feel deserve the greatest attention. If you have difficulty determining what those issues are, give every board member three votes and vote for the three most important issues. Those issues with the most votes should be your "areas of focus." It is recommended that you choose no more than three major areas of focus.
Now that you have determined your "areas of focus," the next step is to develop vision statements, and goals and objectives for those areas. For each vision statement, you should have an open discussion on what constitutes success. Sometimes it is effective to develop a vision statement that describes a specific goal three years in the future. For example, in the area of membership growth, the XYZ Chapter will have a total membership of at least (desired number) by the year 2005. Once you have established where your chapter should be, your planning committee should develop a goal statement, along with specific objectives, that will help the members realize that vision.
Let's put this together:
In 2003, the XYZ Chapter has a total of 30 chapter members.
Your vision statement may read something like this:
"By June 30, 2005, the XYZ Chapter will increase its membership to 60 or more members.
The goal statement may read:
"The XYZ Chapter will increase its membership in order to realize a more viable presence in the Anytown metropolitan area."
Your objective statements may read:
Objective 1--Increase membership awareness by contacting at least 10 local corporations each year to encourage membership development in those businesses.
Objective 2--Develop a member prospect list and utilize IAAP Headquarters materials to market membership to those individuals.
Objective 3--Initiate a membership recruitment committee to personally contact member prospects.
Objective 4--Hold at least one special IMPACT recruitment meeting each year for the next three years.
Under each objective, list the tasks necessary to achieve the objective along with the individuals responsible for performing those tasks.
Follow up on the chapter's goals, objectives, and tasks at each board meeting, and evaluate each member's (or team's) progress in meeting these goals.
Assign a board member to each area of focus, and have them report back to the full board on monthly progress.
Evaluate the entire plan at least four times annually.
Regularly encourage members to contribute to the success of reaching the chapter's goals. Keep the strategic plan's goals and objectives out in front of the membership through communications in newsletters, e-mail bulletins, and chapter Web sites.
Recognize your collective successes as a team with a special recognition for those who provided outstanding support and showed dedication.
The key to success for any plan is follow up and follow through. The plan should be revisited regularly to assess progress and to assign responsibility for unfulfilled tasks.