Monday, April 27, 2015

A Strategy Agenda Is Not a Strategic Plan

I introduced a new term in my association last year. Our Strategy Agenda. What is it? Well, as the title of this blog post suggests, it is not another pseudonym for our strategic plan. It is something distinct.

Unlike too many strategic plans in the association world, our Strategy Agenda doesn't deal at all with what we intend to do. It deals only with what we intend to achieve, and how we will know when we achieved it. And it is owned solely by our Board of Directors.

At least that's the theory. I introduced it last year to help everyone--Board and staff members alike--make the distinction between the job of the Board and the job of the staff. In fact, in addition to Strategy Agenda, I also launched the use of another new term--the Operational Plan--to reinforce this important separation.

Now, in our discussions, there is no Strategic Plan. There's the Strategy Agenda, determined by the Board and focused on what we want to achieve, and there's the Operational Plan, determined by the staff and focused on how we will achieve it.

As with most things in our world, there's more nuance than that, but that's the bare essence. If we want the Board and staff to understand their distinct roles, why not give them a vocabulary that supports that distinction?

We're still getting used to the new terminology, but in discussing and explaining the definitions, it has more that once prompted a helpful conversation about who does what and why.

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This post was written by Eric Lanke, an association executive, blogger and author. For more information, visit, follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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