7 steps to building a growth-fueled strategy for 2017

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By: Jacqueline Fassett | 12.29.16

We’re in full planning mode for 2017. From leadership talks to whiteboard brainstorming, we’ve got a lot of ideas for how we want to move forward and help organizations grow. But crafting the right strategy, especially when you have a lot of good ideas, can become overwhelming. So with ten years of strategic planning behind us, we’re going to write down the steps that have helped us move forward and grow.

First, let’s note that your strategic growth starts with imagination. Take a few minutes and imagine where your business or organization can be, realistically, by the end of December 2017. Are you boasting 1,000 new memberships, double the online sales, or higher engagement in your online communities? Write down what you’re imagining and then let’s jump into how you can make this a reality.

1. Review your mission and values

Start from the beginning and review the grounding principles of your organization. Make sure to align your growth strategy and 2017 goals around those principles. Not only will aligning your mission and goals help your organization stay grounded, it can also help your branding and messaging look consistent and encourage a better culture within your workspace.

2. Find your champions

We’ve talked a lot about how building a team should look when making a technology change, and it’s similar when making strategic changes. Growth cannot happen if only one person is working towards it. When beginning to make a plan for growth ask yourself and colleagues “who’s available and who can help champion these goals?” Then pull your team together to move forward with crafting your strategy.

3. Listen to your customers or donors

You’ve probably heard a lot of feedback and ideas over the past year. Have you written them down or stored them somewhere? Look back at feedback from 2016 and see what ideas could align with your vision for 2017 and your organization’s values. Next, if you haven’t already, create a way to ask for feedback in 2017. We suggest looking into an online form option that allows for anonymous or CRM account-linked feedback. This feedback will be key in your growth throughout the year and beyond.

4. SWOT yourself

SWOT, or Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, is an evaluation and planning technique that can help you take stock of your organization or business. It’s a great technique that has helped many businesses generate meaningful strategies and find a competitive edge. Grab a whiteboard and some dry erase markers and run through it.

5. Now pick your goals

After you’ve taken a good look at your organization and your vision for 2017, start choosing a few (and we do mean just a few) goals for the upcoming year that are realistic and in line with what you’ve learned. These don’t need to be new concepts to your organization. You could just be looking to improve your current processes, like tightening up your inside sales routine or being more consistent with staff meetings. Pick the goals that have the most promise to grow your organization in the way you’ve learned it needs to grow and can help set your organization up for success.

6. Do a little research

Ground your plans in research. Pull up a search engine and find some case studies on how others achieved similar goals. Did they use new tools, techniques, or technology? What steps can you learn from others to help make your goals happen? However, you should know that too much planning can halt growth and be a comfort trap. Don’t let yourself get too caught up in being over planned; pick a path that has proven results for others and then go with it.

7. Setup check-ins and a checklist

Once you’ve started you’ll find there will be obstacles you cannot plan for, so set up check ins on a regular and realistic schedule (what needs to be evaluated weekly vs. quarterly?) to make sure you’re staying adaptive. A good rule of thumb is to announce these check-in findings at regular meetings or in a regular staff email to hold everyone accountable throughout the year. Finally, document the process by creating a checklist of what’s supposed to happen when everyone is working towards 2017’s goals and how you evaluate and measure the progress of the goals.

Whatever your goals for 2017, we wish you the best of luck. Strategic planning can seem daunting when reviewing budgets, feedback, ideas (realistic or not), and goals. Let your vision and organization’s mission guide your actions. Make sure your team is on the same page and supporting the goals. Finally, take the leap and monitor your plan.

As Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff says “Most of all, I discovered that in order to succeed with a product, you must truly get to know your customers and build something for them.” If anything, let this thought be a guiding principle for your growth in 2017.

Are you looking to increase your impact and fuel your growth in 2017? If a technology change is part of your strategic plan for 2017, read our whitepaper “Be Prepared, Not Scared; Strategies for Technology Change” that walks you through building a plan, evaluating estimates and choosing a team for the change. 







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