As I mentioned in last month's AECT President's Blog, we had a productive time at our leadership conference, working on a draft of our AECT Strategic Plan. I have asked AECT leaders to gather feedback from divisions, affiliates, and committees and I anticipate lots of input. In addition, the planning committee wanted to give AECT members another channel for feedback on the strategic plan. So that everyone's voice can be heard, we have organized a series of Town Hall Meetings on strategic planning and more specifically addressing each of the 3 outcomes identified in the draft.
Town Hall Meeting
Dates/Times (all times Eastern):
Outcome 1: Wednesday, August 14, 3 p.m.
Outcome 1: Monday, August 19, 11 a.m.
Outcome 2: Wednesday, August 21, 3 p.m.
Outcome 2: Thursday, August 22, 4 p.m.
Outcome 3: Wednesday, August 28, 3 p.m.
Outcome 3: Friday, August 30, 11 a.m.
We will use AECT's conference call number for the town hall meetings (download dial-in instructions below).
Going into our upcoming town hall meetings on strategic planning, we want you to know some foundational information about our new mission, vision, and the value of the strategic planning process. It will help prepare you for those conversations.
Mission and Vision
Mission statements and vision statements are the inspiring words your leaders have chosen to clearly and concisely convey the direction of our organization. By crafting a clear mission statement and vision statement, we can powerfully communicate our intentions and motivate our members to realize an attractive and inspiring common vision of the future.
"Mission Statements" and "Vision Statements" do two distinctly different jobs. For a nonprofit organization, a mission statement is the most important planning document a group could construct. A well-crafted mission statement helps the organizers, patrons, donors, employees, and volunteers know exactly what the nonprofit does, who it works to help, why it exists, and how it goes about doing work. A mission statement defines the organization's purpose and primary objectives. In essence it is WHAT we do and HOW we do it.
The vision statement communicates both the purpose and values of the organization. For board and staff, it inspires them to give their best. Shared with others, it shapes the community's understanding of why they should work with the organization. The vision statement is a snapshot or summary of what the organization's end goal or final product should be and should be a clear, motivating message about what our organization wants the future to look like. In essence it is WHY we do WHAT we do.
AECT Values Strategic Thinking
AECT has embarked upon strategic planning because we value strategic thinking. Group strategic thinking creates value by enabling a proactive and creative dialogue, where individuals gain other people's perspectives on critical and complex issues.
From a big picture point of view, we want you to be aware of a few of the value and benefits of strategic thinking:
The value of strategic thinking:
1. enables us to stay at the front or leading edge of change
2. optimizes the ability to shape and leverage change to our advantage
3. eliminates complacency
4. creates a sense of unity for our organization
5. facilitates proactive leadership
The benefits of strategic thinking:
1. improves guidance on actions to achieve our vision and mission
2. acts as an early detection system to warn of changes
3. identifies our allies
4. eliminates reactive decision-making
5. agility and capacity to respond positively to change
From a practical perspective, your review of the strategic plan will help you see how it can bring us more funding and financial security; put our staff to their highest and best use; get our board, staff, and members both excited about the big picture and committed to their role in making it happen; and, most importantly, ensures we create change.
A strategic plan should not be solely an incremental list of current activities, but it needs to have new ideas. We want to do more than just maintain the status quo. Thus, think new ideas, explore them, and align them with the purpose of the organization.
Here are the questions you can think about to prepare.
1. What are the trends in our field?
2. Given the trends, what are some new ideas we should be addressing?
3. Given the trends, what products or services should we change or eliminate and what new products or services should we consider?
4. If we take action on any specific idea, what will be the impact (both positive and negative) for taking action? What if no action is taken? Any impact?
5. What beliefs and assumptions underlie our ability to make our vision come true?
6. Are our mission and vision aligned with the answers to these questions?
Why Are We Involving You? A Successful Implementation…
When key stakeholders are invited to a creative thinking step, it engages and energizes all participants. This is where new ideas are generated, where innovative possibilities are visualized, and where the stage is set for implementation success. The more stakeholders are involved in the thinking and exploration, the more emotional and intellectual energy they have invested, the higher the probability that implementation will occur successfully.
While many organizations let their strategic plans gather dust on the shelves (and many of you have probably experienced this), we want to ensure you that we have been thinking about implementation. Here are some of our cursory plans for implementation:
• Infuse organizational "working life” with the strategic goals—incorporate into staff work plans, board committee, and meeting agendas, etc.
• Align board structure (committees, task groups, etc.) with plan goals.
• Share plan highlights on web site.
• Delegate action steps and accountability at smaller "unit” level—e.g., task groups from board, staff, and other volunteers.
• Use goals as our "anchor” to ensure ongoing ownership, buy-in (When we get stuck, ask "Is what we’re doing furthering our goals?”).
• Let strategies drive the resources rather than the other way around.
We want to be a highly successful organization. Highly successful organizations report that strategic planning has a high impact on overall organizational success. We are asking you to join us at our upcoming town hall meetings to provide you with the opportunity to offer your perspective. Help us succeed by becoming involved in our strategic planning!
*Download the Strategic Plan Draft
*Download Dial-in Instructions/Passcode
*Note that you will need to log into our AECT portal with your AECT credentials to download the strategic plan file and dial-in instructions. (And while you are logged in, feel free to update your profile!)
AECT Strategic Planning Committee
Committee Chair: Rob Branch
Committee Members: Marc Childress, Steve Harmon, Phil Harris, Trey Martindale, Kay Persichitte
Facilitator: Michael Shermis