AfriDev Exchange Strategic Planning process - How it works?
Jipe Kelly, Co-founder & Consultant at AfriDev Exchange

There is no denying that strategic planning involves complex issues, but finding your course and direction doesn't have to be complicated.
Any strategic planning process involves digesting information and some fairly difficult analysis. Good strategic planning should be simplified..

The Three Key Questions:
AfriDev Exchange's  Planning process entails a step-by-step approach to answering the following three key questions:

•What is your current position
•Where do you want to get to
•How do you intend to get there? The roadmap

The first two questions define the breadth, scope and focus of your organisation. First you must decide what you will do or will not do, and then you must decide who you want to serve or who will benefit from what you will do. These questions help you determine an appropriate focus.

The greatest mistake many organisations do is not focusing their effort and avoiding narrowing down things. With this approach, an organisation is trying to suggest that they do just everything, and that it is everyone that benefit from their existence, which is far from being possible. It is easy to say you want to solve all society’s problems. The question is: do you have the capacity and resources to do that. If you portray yourself like you can do everything, you will need an awful lot of resources. 

It is this kind of reasoning that you need to bring out a sense of realism in your strategic plan. When you begin to examine your competencies, strengths, capabilities and infrastructure, you will really understand the importance of focus. You cannot, by any means, address all society’s problems. Instead, you need to focus on applying specific capabilities to priority areas. This will allow you to use your resources to your advantage instead of just using them up.

These questions are the heart of the AfriDev Exchange Strategic Planning model because at each step along the way you will be working towards answering them. As you do you will learn and grow. And as you learn and grow, you will create a well-considered plan. In the end, you will have a strategy that works and gives specific answers to the three questions above.

AfriDev Exchange's Strategic planning process structure:
Strategic planning process is as important as the product. The AfriDev Exchange's  Strategic Planning process involves a number of broad stages. It incorporates a series of structured meetings using different tools, techniques and approaches such as the Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) approach which enables you to gather some basic data and facts about the sector in which you operate - your internal and external situation. Then, we try and build a consensus about some assumptions for the future, including opportunities, threats and scenarios. After you've researched the necessary facts and developed assumptions, we sit down and review it with your team and make sure everyone understands it and agrees with it. This is a central part of any strategic planning methodology because this information shapes all further discussion about the strategy.

We will discuss this information and talk about its implications for your organisation's strategy. Then together, we identify some issues that affect strategy. We also consider how you might shoot yourselves in the foot. From there, we will go on to develop your strategy (course and direction). Then together we define your goals and objectives and get into the questions of:

•How do we get there?
•How much is it going to cost?
•When do we arrive?
•Who is responsible?

Depending on the stakeholders to be involved, the AfriDev Exchange's Strategic Planning process covers nine items in three PLA sessions and one-to-one meetings. The first session is two days, the second is three days and the third session is two days and you will cover:

•Gather information 
•Assess capabilities
•Make assumptions
•Make strategic assessments of internal and external environment
•Develop core business strategy, communication strategy organisational development strategy,
  organisational structure strategy and financial strategy
•Establish goals and objectives
•Develop action plans to turn your objectives into results
•Finalize action plans after considering resource requirements and availability
•Schedule reviews of developments, progress and performance.

The point of the AfriDev Exchange's Strategic Planning process is to make the plan manageable. If you want to create a beautifully-bound 700-page bookend that everyone has and no one uses, you'll probably need a lot more meetings (just to design the cover). But if you want to create a plan - a real, workable plan that everyone can relate to quickly, - the AfriDev Exchange's Strategic Planning process is for you.

1.It starts with situation analysis - understanding your current situation and what your assumptions
  might be going forward.
2.Then there is strategy formulation - making decisions based on those inputs.
3.Finally, there is implementation planning - taking your decisions and driving them home in the
  organisation to get results.

Remember the whole reason to do this is to get results. Implementation must be specific because when it is not it is invariably lacklustre. The AfriDev Exchange's Strategic Planning process leads to specific implementation of a strategy. Dream it and then do it. That's how it works.

In total, the AfriDev Exchange's Strategic Planning process works out to about seven days of meetings, which can be spread out over six months so that it won't interfere with your day-to-day work.
Sound Strategy + Effective Implementation = Solid Success

At the end of the AfriDev Exchange's Strategic Planning process, you end up with action plans that support your objectives. You allocate resources though budgets, and you allocate time through time worksheets, and you have things being done on time and on budget because you have a strategy that fits the best information at your disposal. You should have in hand 6 to 10 action plans of things that specific individuals are going to do at specific times. They will take specific amounts of time and of money - numbers that everyone (including your funders) will agree are realistic commitments.

successful strategic execution is paramount to creating greater impact on your social goals and sustaining your organization. If you accomplish these four steps you should achieve over 90% of your objectives within the timeframe selected. If you need help on putting in place structures or facilitating these processes, do not hesitate to contact us on:

AfriDev  Exchange's Articles on Strategic Planning:
AfriDev  Exchange's Articles on Strategic Planning:

AfriDev Exchange Key Areas of Focus

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