Chapter 2Step 2: Stakeholder Engagement

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Engage Internal Stakeholders

If your strategic plan is to be used, your staff and board need to understand it and be committed to it. The most important outcome of strategic planning is not the document but the actual decisions made with shared understanding and commitment of board and staff. In this way, some say, the process is the product. Thus, it is important to solicit their input early in the process. This can be done in several ways, and it is often helpful to use more than one approach. Involvement may take place at a single retreat, or input may be sought at more than one point in the process.

Many of our clients worry that by soliciting input widely, decision makers will end up beholden to and/or constrained by that input. There are three important things to understand in this regard:

  1. The input of the people who belong to the organization is valuable. There is knowledge, insight, and diversity of opinion. Understanding what people on the board and staff consider most important, where they believe the problems lie, and what they think might be done to achieve greater success is necessary data for the process.
  2. This step is not about achieving consensus. Rather, it is about structuring participation that will allow for meaningful leadership. The chances of someone supporting the end product are enormously greater if they have ...

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