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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 joined Lighthouse Counsel after 20 years as director of development at The Oak Hill School in Nashville, where she led two successful capital campaigns. She also directed all volunteer activities and shepherded an annual fund campaign that achieved 100 percent parent participation. Kathy is founder of the Nashville Area Development Directors Association, has served on a number of nonprofit boards. She served as board chair for the Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee and Lung Association of Tennessee. She has also served as president of Nashville Bar Auxiliary and chair of Lamar Alexander’s Inaugural Ball. She is a popular presenter and received the Circle of Excellence Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education for overall improvement in educational fundraising. Kathy holds a bachelor of science degree in education from the University of North Georgia. Kathy’s favorite quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (Maya Angelou)