Now that the wave of excitement that accompanies a new year has subsided and resolutions are in full swing, it’s time to dive further into planning for the future health of your association.
Last month, we discussed SMART goals that focused on the 2020 year, but what about beyond this year?
Short-term goals offer quicker rewards than their long-term counterpart. However, while long-term goals feel distant and sometimes unattainable, they can prove to be more satisfying in the end.
So, where do you even start? Perhaps you’ll consider the below tips and tricks regarding how to approach long-range planning for your association. This method is separated into three phases, divided into 10 steps, aiming for you to implement your long-range plans by meditating on your goal, facilitating the tools to implement your goal, and initiating your goal into action.
Phase One – Meditate
- First, decide what you want to accomplish. Does your board prefer a 5 or 10-year map or an official strategic plan? Or, would you rather focus on a single matter, such as more efficient meetings? No matter what your association needs, put ideas into writing (or typing). Expressing thoughts on paper (or screen) aids in the process of solidifying ideas and discovering new ones.
- Explore plans with a vision board during a creative planning session. By personalizing the visualization of ideas through a creative outlet, you allow those involved to be more committed to the ideas and reflect on the processes that will lead to the fruition of the association’s goals.
- In mulling over the board’s plans, try determining a mission statement.
Not only should you know what you want, you should also consider why. Why do you and your association function? What principles are significant to this board? Solidifying objectives for your association will assist in completing the board’s plans as well as shaping future ones.
Phase Two – Facilitate
- Consider the resources at your disposal. What will best help achieve your board’s long-range plan? What resources are needed? From partnerships to financials to guidance, pulling from the tools around you will aid in the process of reaching your goals. Take into account your committee volunteers, management company, and legal counsel, as well as your reserves and budget. Also, review your insurance, board training, and vendor resources. If you need suggestions, see the following for more information: Blue Lime, Boardline, and VendorSmart.
- Use the SWOT method, outlined in The SWOT Analysis. This method involves assessing the internal and external factors that influence your situation, which is, in this case, achieving your long-term goals. Internally, you will identify strengths and weaknesses, and externally, you will recognize any opportunities and threats relevant to the board and your association. The SWOT method focuses on the circumstances affecting your goals.
- According to Scott Belsky’s Making Ideas Happen, organizing ideas based on urgency aids in executing your plans more effectively.
Approach your prioritization by categorizing the stages of your plan by something you 1) must do now, 2) can refer back to later, and 3) can deal with in the future. For example, if your long-term goal is to implement a new annual event, such as a cook-off, you could follow this scheme: 1) set a budget for the event now, 2) reserve a potential date and location later, and 3) solicit homeowner participation in the future after all the details are secured.
Phase Three – Initiate
- Long-range plans take time and effort, but the overall labor can be reduced into smaller projects to make the goal feel more attainable. A long-term goal can easily be broken into several short-term goals. Think of long-range planning as a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces must be strategically placed together, tackling the puzzle piece-by-piece. Apply this same method to long-range plans, reaching closer and closer through a step-by-step process.
- Allocating responsibilities among the entire board not only allows for a lighter workload for you, but ultimately increases overall productivity. You’ve heard the saying “divide and conquer,” and forming long-range plans is no exception. Consider the strengths and weaknesses identified in the SWOT method—who has a relevant skill? Which members could complete which task most efficiently? Also, don’t underestimate the importance of a solid management partner in helping navigate tasks. They have valuable expertise that can aid in the success of your goals. This way, by delegating responsibilities, one person isn’t shouldering all the weight and your board can tackle long-range planning effectively like pros.
- Encourage a discourse among the board regarding the progress of the plan and monitor that progress to nurture an accountable environment. Additionally, determine and reinforce motivation that will push the board to work toward the established plan without losing focus. You can also source accountability from open communication with homeowners. In providing visibility of your intentions, homeowners will be more inclined to feel a sense of trust, and they can encourage your board to stay on track, and may even offer ideas to help reach the long-term goal. Also, calling back on the writing step in Phase One, Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto reveals that the act of writing checklists aids in memory and increases accountability with providing critical reminders of the tasks at hand.
- Finally, though seemingly counterintuitive, work backwards from your target in order to achieve the best results.
Look forward and decide where you want to end, retracing your steps to identify the process that will assist you in getting there.
Now that you have an outline to follow, you can start smooth sailing toward your long-term planning with enthusiasm! Of course, sometimes plans change, and there’s always room to adjust and improve. The above method is meant as a guideline, as there is no hard and fast rule to creating and achieving goals. Personalize these tips and make them your own to find your association’s success journey in planning.