This tool is intended to guide co-op boards or members through the process of creating a strategic plan. Co-operatives that want a more thorough, professionally prepared strategy plan could consult experts in the field or give Co-operatives First a call to determine how we could support your plan. Our suggested model for a strategic plan may not be a good fit for your co-operative and you should consider alternative structures and sections that best reflect your organization’s plan and intentions.
Elements of a strategic plan:
The Mission, Vision, and Values statements of a co-operative outline what the organization will do and how it intends to do this, generally.
The mission statement simply explains what your co-operative does. This statement should be concise and serve as a one- or two-sentence overview of why the organization exists. It should convey a clear purpose and direction for the organization, offering something to work towards. Everything the organization does should be in service of this mission.
When creating a strategic plan, it may be useful to think of your mission statement as a recipe:
The vision statement is less direct than the mission statement and is usually more aspirational and inspirational. For many organizations, a vision statement captures an ideal outcome or a societal goal that we need to work towards together. A food security organization in Vancouver might simple envision: “end hunger in Vancouver.”
A values statement may contain multiple values that demonstrate the priorities for the co-operative and identify how it will conduct business. The vision statement speaks to the nature of the co-operative and should be reflected in the work that it does. This could be a statement or in point-form to reflect the various important values underlying the business.
Taking an assessment of the organization’s current state or situational analysis is an integral part of a strategic plan that ensures these various components are at the front of peoples’ minds. In the early days of the organization, this will help chart the assets that will support development. For organizations that complete annual or bi-annual strategic plans, updating this information will be important to determine the ongoing performance of the organization. Consider using these factors:
The SWOT analysis is a commonly-used tool that helps illustrate the context for an organization’s strategic plan. It is useful to think of the four categories in two sections: strengths and weaknesses are internal to the organization and may be controlled; opportunities and threats are external and could be acted upon.
· Staff experience
· Affordable facility
· Board experience
· Member engagement
· Lack of branding
· New grant opportunity
· Growing population
· Local media coverage
· New competitor
· Online markets; relevance
· Board vacancies
With the organization’s current state at the forefront of the group’s mind and an overview of what works, what doesn’t, and what could identified, it’s time to create some action items. These can be high-level, focusing on strategy, or task-specific. It’s useful to base the action plan on the findings of the SWOT analysis. Framing questions might be helpful:
Some examples of action items (based on the sample SWOT analysis above) may include:
If the SWOT analysis identified broader themes that require multiple actions, consider identifying focus areas with specific tasks. This might be useful when allocating resources and people’s time to addressing each area.
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