Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Often Missed Step of Planning: Where You Are Now

My office is near U.S. 41 in Sarasota—the main commercial artery of the city. Along this corridor I have standard errands, both north and south. To save time, I run different errands en route to meetings depending if the meeting is north or south respectively. This plan saves gas, energy and waiting at stoplights. At your nonprofit, your plans will work best if you also know your starting place. This Where You Are Now is the second essential stage of good planning.

What does it mean to know where you are now? Knowing includes obvious items; your physical location, financial status and pending staff changes. It also includes subtle issues, like market conditions, a planning group’s comfort level with each other, and if you have the information you need to plan, etc. As an example of the last, last week a group of consultants planned what with a series of recorded teleconferences. We failed to make much progress until we determined that we had recorded the previous sessions—a needed piece of information.

Another component of Where You Are Now that is especially fruitful for experienced groups is information about other planning experiences your group completed. What was successful about them? Lacking? Do people have positive expectations about up-coming planning sessions? Was the fiscal piece strong or does it need additional effort? Identifying these or related issues is “knowing where you are now” and the second step in good planning.

What kinds of questions do you ask and answer when you look at your current situation as part of the planning process?

(For the first step of good planning read this entry: The Critical First Step of Income and Other Planning: Destination.)


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