Last week, I was working with a new client, and we were sketching out a logic model for one, among a variety, of the programs that my client operates. As we talked about the inputs, outputs, and the short-, medium-, and long-term, outcomes their program produces, it dawned on me that we were unintentionally sketching many of the elements that might contribute to a strategic plan for the overall organization. This experience prompted me to think about how developing logic models for specific initiatives and programs, can also assist organizations to consider and reflect upon their broader goals, operations, and results. Although a logic model typically charts the logic of a particular program, it shares many of the features and illustrates many of the features of the organization that runs the program.

What is Strategic Planning?

“Simply put, strategic planning determines where an organization is going over the next year or more, how it’s going to get there and how it’ll know if it got there or not. The focus of a strategic plan is usually on the entire organization…” (See the Free Management Library at Balanced Scorecard says, “Strategic planning is an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organization’s direction in response to a changing environment. It is a disciplined effort that produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, who it serves, what it does, and why it does it, with a focus on the future. Resource.

Features Common to Both Logic Models and Strategic Plans

My experience working with clients has shown me that logic models raise many of the same questions that strategic plans do: What are our assumptions about how a program works? What is the environment (context) in which a program operates? What are we trying to achieve (goals and objectives)? What investments (inputs) do we make? What activities (outputs) do we engage in? What are the results, changes, impacts (outcomes) that we want to, and in fact, DO, produce? How do we measure our effects and achievements (measures/metrics)?

Although logic modeling can’t do all of the things a strategic plan can, it can become – especially when it includes an organization’s many stakeholders – an important contributor to the process through which an organization reflects upon where it is and where it wants to go. The collective learning that accompanies the process of building a logic model for a specific program, can also inform the organization’s efforts to develop a broader strategic plan.


Read Brad’s current whitepaper “Logic Modeling

What is a Strategic Plan?
What is the Balanced Scorecard?
The Basics of Strategic Planning and Strategic Management

What a Strategic Plan Is and Isn’t
Ten Keys to Successful Strategic Planning for Nonprofit and Foundation Leaders

Types of Strategic Planning
Understanding Strategic Planning

Steps to a Strategic Plan
Five Steps to a Strategic Plan

Strategic Planning for Non-Profits
Strategic Planning for Non-Profits
What is the best way to do strategic planning for a nonprofit?









Videos About Strategic Planning

University of Arizona
Introduction to Strategic Planning

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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