An ancient Aztec building still stands today due to stragetic planning

When it comes to the best approaches to a planning process, there is nothing new under the sun. It’s all been tried before. The ancient civilizations of the world did not accomplish what they did without sufficiently sophisticated expertise in planning and execution. Whether a planning process succeeds or fails has less to do with the tool or process than it does with the mindsets and convictions of those participating. Any new approach to planning is likely just a reframing of the language for a particular model. What is new? Increased awareness. 

One of the most beneficial outcomes of a planning project done well is the increased awareness that results from the process.

Increase awareness by:

  • Observing and learning more deeply how other people think.
  • Hearing and understanding more deeply what those other people value and why.
  • Receiving Clarity around what you value and how you think, and why.
  • Understanding and connecting with the organization’s reasons for existing, including why it was founded and some of its formational history. (You may be surprised at what learning in this area does for people. Some commit and engage more, others realize they ought to move on…and that usually proves to be a good thing.)
  • Figuring out what is not necessary and subsequently taking those things off the agenda, off people’s plates, out the picture, off the radar, etc. (Use whatever language provides the greatest sense of freedom. This helps release energy for what does matter.)
  • Recognizing peoples’ intense passions for specific interests. This requires doing the work that helps people get past their positions on a subject and to their deeper interests, but it’s worth it.
  • Gaining a deeper understanding of your organization’s beneficiaries’ needs behind their needs. Many planning processes begin with a focus on the most obvious, tangible outcomes. A well-done process reveals deeper, foundational needs and motivations. When you encounter these matters of the heart, brought into conversations around planning, you discover a deeper well of energy for the right things.

What increase awareness achieves for you and your team.

I’ve achieved effective planning processes completely in-house, with “just” the team. I’ve also engaged outside perspective and expertise. Both approaches do the job. If one of your objectives along the way is to increase awareness, then seek outside perspectives. It proves to be of immense value to you and your team. 

No one can do anything with what they do not have. Gaining perspective and input from others outside you or outside your organization increases the “what you have”. This in turn increases what you and your organization can actually do, whether it’s part of planning or putting the plan into action and increasing impact. 

For more information on strategic planning to increase awareness in your nonprofit or business, contact TurningWest – Your Guide to a healthy culture and fruitful human work systems.

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