As your SME senior chapter's planning leader, you have been called on to develop your chapter's strategic plan — a guide for positive and constructive dialog between chapter officials and chapter members. By developing long-term and short-term plans for your chapter, you are guiding the future by identifying an overall direction and the means of achieving it.
- Work with the chapter chair-elect to plan for the chapters.
- Coordinate the activities of the planning committee.
- Develop a strategic plan for future success of the chapter, including vision and mission statements, goals and strategies.
- Analyze current and future problems and opportunities faced by the chapter.
- Select members of your planning team carefully. They should be people who can, and will, contribute positively to the content and who are positioned to drive the successful implementation of the plan's identified strategies.
- Remember that the planning process is as important as the final document; a perfect plan does not exist.
- Make sure that present and future chapter leaders understand the strategic planning process and the critical roles they play in strategy development and strategy implementation.
- Involve everyone! Getting the input of the entire executive committee and select members is key to success.
- Every chapter is different. Develop your own planning process and steps; you know what will work best for your chapter.
- Only adopt strategies that your chapter can implement in a timely, cost-effective manner.
- Contact your member and industry relations manager for help and input.
The strategic planning process is more than just putting goals down on a piece of paper. It serves as a guide for positive and constructive dialog between chapter officials and chapter members. This dialog may be just as important as the long-range plans the process generates.
A strategic plan shapes and guides what the chapter does and why it does it does by:
- Representing a shared vision of what you want to accomplish.
- Providing a framework that will be consistent over a specific period of time.
- Identifying an overall direction (the means of achieving it becomes your plan).
- Identifying the direction for short-term actions.
It lays out the process by which your chapter identifies the needs of present and future members and empowers chapter volunteers — and staff at SME Headquarters — to provide exceptional services and products in response to those needs. Do not go it alone. Working with a team will bring the best results.
Determine what influences will impact your chapter plan by looking at internal and external trends. You might use existing research (secondary research) as your basis of determining the economic health of your immediate vicinity. Is the area economy booming? Are there new businesses opening? Are manufacturing companies closing and moving elsewhere? Are area educational institutions expanding their manufacturing programs or are these programs in danger? Your research will help you explore how these — and other — aspects of the local economy might impact membership in the near and, relatively, far-off future.
Your research into member needs and leadership resources is equally important because, ultimately, your plan must be targeted at meeting member needs, which is only possible if your chapter has the internal capabilities and resources to do so. If, for instance, the chapter's future leadership is weak, you may be able to invest time and money now that will expand their capabilities.
A strategic plan resembles a pyramid in that it begins broadly with a vision statement (what you ultimately want for the chapter) and becomes more specific as it develops and describes the chapter's mission, goals and objectives, strategies (how that vision will be achieved), action plans (the who, what, when and where of specific tasks) and check points.
Begin with the identification of your dream of the future. Do not worry if it is so grandiose as to be unattainable; it is yours, for inspiration. This dream becomes your chapter's vision statement — a simple and concise declaration of an ideal situation. For example, "SME Chapter 123 is Anywhere, USA's leading membership organization, bringing the manufacturing community together to advance and exchange manufacturing knowledge, and increase local manufacturers' competitiveness on both local and global scales." Essentially, your vision is what you would like your chapter to become in the future — based on the absolute best-case scenario imaginable.
In addition to serving as a promise to members, your chapter's mission statement is key in helping you and other chapter leaders direct people toward achieving your chapter's goals. It is where you start to show how your dream for an ideal chapter is going to become a reality.
A mission statement is concise and informative, focused on the goals we are trying to accomplish and the way we intend to do it.
Goals represent your chapter's clear direction and are "SMART": Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable and Timely. They give measure to the mission statement and, followed up with the strategies and tactics you will use to accomplish them, they become your chapter's map to success. Work with your group to:
- Identify broad-based goals derived from membership and market needs; they should be outcome based and not measurable. Example: Increase local manufacturers' ability to compete globally.
- Identify objectives that will be the means for accomplishing the goals. Objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. They are often measured by time or numerically. Example: Increase local awareness of the benefits of manufacturing careers by the year 2017.
- Determine strategies that can accomplish each of these goals. Example: Conduct three community education events featuring interesting manufacturing career technologies, each drawing 100-plus potential members.
- Identify the tactics or steps that the chapter must undertake to execute each strategy. Example: Negotiate contracts for each event venue.
Establishing checkpoints is critical to a chapter's success in meeting established goals. Checkpoints are timeframes established by your chapter. They are used to indicate the degree of success the chapter has had in achieving its goals and to determine whether or not it is time to grow or change the chapter's strategic plan — a living, rather than static, document. At specific checkpoints, say every six months, you have an opportunity to refine and revise key strategies. This gives you a chance to deal with any changed perceived challenges and/or opportunities, and ensures that all the elements of your plan are realistic and consistent with each other.
Since the future of your chapter's success depends on the action taken by members in response to the strategic plan, help members execute the plan by outlining up to six major action programs in their order of importance. For each tactic — or action — specify what, who, where, how and when, including, whenever possible, a list of the resources that are available.