Key terms for strategic planning


It is critical that when we are conducting strategic planning we all have a clear understanding of what the key terms mean.


Describes core business and broad purpose of the organisation


Values are the principles by which the organisation works. Values sum up what is critically important for the organisation. Values underpin strategic planning and form the criteria for decision-making, behaviours and action.


A vision is an inspirational scenario of where the organisation will be in the future. It builds on the mission and incorporates values and is the outcome of a successful strategy plan.

Goals or objectives

Goals or objectives are broad statements of purpose that show how the organisation will fulfil your mission and will achieve its vision within the framework of its values. Goals will be developed for:

  • Broad areas of business or major projects
  • Support and infrastructure like financial management, HR, OHS, quality assurance
  • Governance

Strategic planning should incorporate goals that are SMART or SMARTI






Implementation plan

Each goal or objective in a strategic plan has a series of strategies and action plans per strategy that identify how you are going to achieve the goals/objectives, who is responsible and what the timeline is.

Success measures

Success measures or key performance indicators specify how you will know that you have been successful such as an increase in factors like participation or profit margin, or decrease in what is problematic like absenteeism or workplace accidents. For each measure it is customary to set specific, quantifiable targets.

A balanced scorecard refers to a measurement framework that includes both operational and strategic measures or combines financial with people measures.

The triple bottom line refers to strategic planning with measures that address goals or objectives that are:

  • Financial
  • Social
  • Environmental

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Strategic planning process for small not-for-profits

Strategic planning is an imaginative process underpinned by practical down-to earth thinking. It allows us to visualise the possible, confirm what is important for us, and do reality checks on dreams.

We bring the real world of data to bear on sometimes fantastical scenarios. We allow time to argue about what we are here for and what is deeply important to us. And then we get down to the nitty-gritty of developing a plan to make it happen.

Strategic planning takes time. Please, please, please allow sufficient time. I have been asked to facilitate strategic planning and told I had an afternoon to get from vision to broad plan. I said, “No!”. Even a revision of the current plan takes more time than that. Setting aside sufficient time allows for greater commitment from participants to the process and the outcomes. And it can be fun!

Usually, it is best to get yourself a facilitator, but just in case that is not possible, here is a strategic planning template listing common steps (which do not necessarily have to be done in this order) and methods.

I have facilitated many strategic planning sessions, mainly with small not-for-profit organisations, so this template is aimed at them. Download a PDF version here.

Strategic questioning


Fran Peavey’s chapter on strategic questioning is one of the best descriptions and instructions on the questions and the sequence of questioning facilitators can use to get people to think and act imaginatively and strategically. I think this was written in the 1990s, but her opening paragraph still rings oh so true.

In these days of constant change, and the need for even more change if we are to live peacefully in a healthy environment, we ask ourselves:

  • “How can our organization weather the tides of constant reorganisation and restructuring and still maintain a clear vision of its mission?”
  • “How can I make decisions about my future that will draw from the most interesting alternatives?”
  • “How can we participate in the creation of social change?”
  • “How can a new vision arise in our organizations and societies?”

Download the chapter here.