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The following Strategic Thinking and Planning Workbook for Non-profit Executives will help them think through their organization's mission and formulate a strategy and plan to create the social impact they desire.  It is a 42 page document and only the introduction is shown to describe its content.  This complete document can be downloaded by clicking on the message below.  This workbook contains plenty of white space so it will download quickly. 

[Download this Microsoft Word document as a self-extracting executable file (.exe - 46k).]


"Strategy converts a non-profit institution's mission and objectives into performance." Peter F. Drucker, Managing the Non-Profit Organization.


This workbook provides a framework to organize and structure what you know about your organization to give you greater insight into its nature, character, strengths and weaknesses and help you make more effective strategic decisions.  It also provides a vehicle to record and document your thinking for future reference. 

All organizations exist as part of a larger system and their success is ultimately determined by how well their efforts fulfill their role in the larger system in which they are a part.  This is the fundamental principle that guided the design of this workbook.  It uses a systems approach to help you examine your organizationís relationship with the community you serve and how well it is meeting their needs and expectations. 

One of the characteristics of system behavior is the separation in time and space between an effect and its cause.  Understanding system behavior requires discovering this sometimes subtle relationship between an effect and its root cause.  Finding the root cause of an event entails looking for patterns of change over time rather than direct cause-effect relationships.  This workbook uses an historical perspective to help you discover the patterns of change influencing your organization.  

You may find it helpful to involve others in this process such as staff members, board members, and members of the community.  These people can contribute significant historical insights about the organization and multiple perspectives of looking at the future.


Your task as the leader is to prepare your organization for the future.  Since this future will be largely determined by how well it meets its social need, the best way to prepare for the future is to keep your organization attuned to its role in society.  Part One- CLARIFYING YOUR PURPOSE helps you analyze your organizationís place in the larger community which nurtures and supports it and clarify your definition of the organization's purpose and vision for the future. 

Achieving a vision usually requires accomplishing results in a variety of areas.  Goals provide the mechanism to specify the set of results that will define vision achievement.  Part Two- FOCUSING YOUR VISION helps you set the goals that will define vision attainment and identify the barriers that stand in the way of these goals.

A marketing tactic is the idea, concept, characteristic, attribute, or image that causes customers to purchase a product or service.  An effective marketing tactic must overcome the barriers that keep customers from purchasing or using your products or services.  Strategy is the decision framework that creates the actions needed to exploit this tactic.  Part Three- FORMULATING YOUR STRATEGY leads you through a process to formulate your marketing tactic and a strategy to drive it home. 

Setting objectives is the critical step in transforming your mission into work.  Objectives describe the tasks that must be accomplished to achieve your goals.  They are driven by your marketing tactic and strategy and must circumvent or overcome the barriers to achieving these goals.   As the leader you must define the performance needed to exploit this tactic and implement your strategy.  Performance that cannot be measured or assessed cannot be managed.  If you do not define measurable performance standards you are merely supervising a level of effort and your organization has a supervisor but not a leader.  Part Four- SETTING YOUR OBJECTIVES helps you identify and set objectives, create accountability for results, and establish measurable performance standards.

The mission statement is an important communication tool.  It is the way an organization defines its social commitment and communicates what it does and what it stands for.  An effective mission statement should focus the organization on action.  It should guide the organizationís decisions and inspire strong commitment from those responsible for its operations and support.  It should implicitly or explicitly reflect the organizationís purpose and vision.  Because writing mission statements can be a stressful experience many organizations continue to use their existing statements even after they have become stale or obsolete.  This not only deprives them of the commitment and support that a strong mission statement can inspire but may also lead to an organizational identity crises.  Part Five- WRITING YOUR MISSION STATEMENT will help you eliminate this problem by providing a template for writing a mission statement which effectively communicates your organizational message.


ď... a primary task of the organization is the discovery of its place and purpose in the larger system.  Every event in its history can be viewed as part of a lesson, the meaning of which is to be intuited by the organizationís members.Ē  Roger Harrison, Leadership and Strategy for a New Age.


One of your primary tasks as a leader is to prepare your organization for the future. Yet the only thing you know about the future is that it will be different than the present.  Because your organization exists only as part of a larger system its role or purpose is largely determined by its impact in this system and only partially by you.  This is why organizations frequently evolve along a different path than that initially envisioned by their founders.  Since you cannot predict the future the most logical way to prepare for it is to attune your organization to its place in the larger community that nurtures and supports it - to look at your organization from a systems perspective.

The role of your organization is shaped by the beliefs, values and assumptions of its past and current leadership.  These determine the services it will offer and the markets or social segments it will serve.  However how the larger community responds to these offerings will define its social role.  The importance society assigns to your efforts determines the level of community support they receive and their ultimate success.   Attuning your organization entails keeping your internal beliefs and values aligned with the needs of the community you serve.  This degree of alignment will be reflected in the quality of the external relationships your organization has developed and sustained over time.  Poor performance and diminishing support may be an indication that your organization is out of tune with its social role.

The universe is constantly changing which impacts all institutions by eventually altering their social roles.  This means that the purpose and mission of all organizations eventually becomes obsolete or invalid.  For this reason organizations need to periodically assess the fundamental beliefs and assumptions that provide the logic for their mission to evaluate whether they still reflect current reality.       

Attuning your organization requires an historical perspective.  Events, people and experiences have shaped its character and identity since its founding.  Examining this history enables you to evaluate your organizationís beliefs and values and provides the context for decisions about its future.   A review of history provides a current picture of your organization - its strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities and gives you the ďbig pictureĒ needed to assess how well it is attuned to its societal role.  History not only reveals what your organization was and is but it also nurtures the seeds of what it can become. 

Non-profit organizations exist to bring about beneficial societal change through the individuals or organizations that use their services.  This is the basis for their preferential tax treatment and the fundamental reason for their existence.  Clarifying your organizationís purpose is the first step in defining its mission.  The following pages will help you discover your organizationís place in the larger social system in which it is a part.

 [Click here to download this complete workbook as a self-extracting executable file (.exe - 46k).] 

Copyright 2002 Three Sigma, Inc.