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Strategic Planning Keeps You Out Of The Weeds

Strategic Planning Keeps You Out Of The Weeds

April 28, 2020
Kathy Gaston

Several weeks ago, while watching one of the earlier presidential press briefings detailing the COVID-19 crisis, I had an epiphany.  

The speakers were giving an overall view of the pandemic and explaining what was being done to put all the necessary procedures in place. When it came time for the press to ask questions, I was amazed at some of the ludicrous queries.  

Instead of looking at the big picture of the problem and what steps were being taken to combat it, the questions were getting down “in the weeds.” Questions such as: “How long will this last?” “Whose fault is it?” “What was the date when you first knew we were at risk?” And so on.  

While these are all legitimate questions, the issue here is that the press was focusing on the minutia and not the broader view. 

Listening to this reminded me of strategic planning with some clients. We always stress that the importance of a solid planning process is to look at the big picture and don’t get down in the weeds. The planning committee should always keep the organization’s mission and core values at the top of its list of priorities so that the planning process provides a well-developed plan to fulfill its potential, aligning daily decisions with long-term goals.  

Strategic planning is a process, not an event. It is an opportunity to engage board members, donors and other constituencies in the future of the organization.  

It is the job of the consultant to keep the committee homed in on the overall focus of the organization to achieve a dynamic plan with actionable goals and measurable objectives.  

During this time of uncertainty, it is even more important than ever to have a clear map of what direction your organization is heading. Strategic planning will keep you out of the weeds and heading into a successful future. 


Kathy Gaston

Kathy Gaston

Kathy joined Lighthouse Counsel after 20 years as director of development at The Oak Hill School in Davidson County, Tenn., where she led two capital campaigns that raised more than $9 million, directed all volunteer activities, and shepherded the annual fund. Kathy is a regular presenter at national conferences of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the National Association of Independent Schools. She received the Circle of Excellence Award from CASE for overall improvement in educational fundraising and is founder of the Nashville Area Development Directors Association.