When associations excel in meeting the needs of their members, you can be sure that it doesn’t happen by accident. Hard work, dedication and persistence are part of it for sure. But without a decent strategic management model, those things won’t get you very far. So, ever your knight in shining armour when it comes to association management, Sea to Sky has some thoughts on the issue.
First, it’s worth defining what strategic management actually is. There are plenty of definitions out there and F.R. David’s is one of the most widely used. He writes that it is “the art and science of formulating, implementing and evaluating cross-functional decisions that enable an organization to achieve its objectives.”
Basically what that means is that all the different functions and priorities of the association need to be brought together in an efficient and cost-effective way to serve the needs of its mission and vision. The strategic management model can be broken down into three stages: formulation, implementation and evaluation.
Needless to say, everybody’s got to be on board with the mission and vision in the first place. There needs to be alignment between the association’s board and its staff, for example. Next, everybody involved needs a clear, performance-based strategy to transform the vision and mission into effective action that benefits the association and its members.
It’s important to set challenging personal and organizational goals too, and you’ll need some effective teamwork to actually make sure you meet them. You should make sure there’s clear communication from the board of directors down to the members and vice versa. You’ll also need a set of efficient business practices and tools aimed at providing maximum member and employee satisfaction.
Now we come to the implementation, the bit where you actually get on and do what you’ve envisioned. This involves working with policies and tactical plans that help fulfil the vision and mission. For example, it might include developing new services for your members, expanding the organization’s reach into new areas, or positioning the association as a force for change in public policy.
Finally we come to strategy evaluation. It’s the last stage and it’s the one that’s most often neglected. This is your opportunity to test the effectiveness of your strategy, understand what worked well and what needs improving. That way you’ll know how you can do better next time around.
So what are the benefits of strategic management? Well, just the process of developing a strategic management model opens up all kinds of opportunities to improve organizational performance, not to mention the chance to identify the most significant threats to the association. It’s also a great incentive to motivate staff, members and volunteers. Done right, the benefits are many and varied – better decisions, more effective use of resources, greater ability to drive change and more innovation and creativity across the organization, to name a few. What’s not to like? And don’t forget that Sea to Sky Meetings is always on hand to help you with expert advice and support.