Strategic Management Articles

Strategic Management, Chapter 3 of Professional Practices in Association Management

Strategic Management, Chapter 3 of Professional Practices in Association Management

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don't much care where.
Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn't matter which way you go.
- Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

Many organizations are like Alice. They have no idea where they are going, so any way will do. Unfortunately, this approach leads to disorganization, misuse of resources, and dissatisfied members and customers.

Strategic management can resolve these problems. It's the process by which an association assesses its strengths and weaknesses, identifies present and future member needs, and empowers volunteers and staff to provide excellent products and services that respond to those needs. Strategic management involves monitoring and evaluating environmental opportunities and problems in light of the organization's strengths and weaknesses and then shaping a coherent set of strategies, programs, and budgets to take advantage of these circumstances.

Strategic management has four steps:

  1. Strategic thinking assesses the future effects of outside forces on the organization. A key component is gathering information and opinions from important constituencies to give planners a solid basis for decision making.
  2. Strategic planning creates the association's future based on strategic thinking. It includes developing a vision of the future and identifying what the association needs to do today to achieve the vision.
  3. Strategic implementation translates the strategic plan into detailed programs and budgets - the work plan of the association-and evaluates them to ensure that they meet member or customer needs.
  4. Evaluation and feedback, based on data and activity reports, determine how closely performance matches the plan.

Strategic management involves asking a set of basic questions: Where is the association now, and how does it fit into its environment? What is the association's vision of its desired future? If no changes are made, where will the association be in one year, two years, five years, and ten years? Are the answers acceptable? If not, what specific steps need to be taken now to bring about the desired future? What are the risks and payoffs of those steps? What evaluation and control mechanisms are needed to ensure that the step's are carried out? What provisions should be made for reconsideration if circumstances change?

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