Strategy matters more than ever

(Note: the Associations of the Future series will help you think strategically about the future, and all the information, including registration for a Dec. 11 LIVE webinar, is here.)

Not to brag too much, but I planted bulbs in my garden this year. I know it’s a small accomplishment, but it’s the kind of thing I mean to do every year, and just never get around to it – and I congratulated myself it was just in time, because it snowed the next day. In a few months, I should see some beauty in my garden, because I planned ahead.

Similarly, it is starting to seem like we might have some green shoots come up in the spring when it comes to the pandemic. We are just starting to see the first vaccinations in the West, and governments and pharmaceutical companies are figuring out how to get shots into the arms of billions of people around the world.

But at least some of my bulbs should flower, and, contrary to what we would have predicted just a few weeks ago, some of our hopes for the spring might come true. We do have a long, cold winter to get through still, and things remain very difficult and scary. The vaccination program is the most complex in human history and it’s likely to get messy. But: it’s underway. Amazing.

So this is a good time to start thinking ahead. In fact, I’d argue it’s crucial to think ahead, to think strategically, at a time like this, and here’s why.

Because your future self will thank you

You will have made smarter choices as you go, because you were thinking ahead. Without some sense of the future, you might spend time or resources in the wrong places, or not take actions you’ll wish you’d done earlier.

Because you’re doing it anyway

Every choice you make enacts a strategy even if you haven’t articulated one. If you aren’t thinking intentionally about strategy, then you’re backing into a strategy based on the choices made by everyone each day. So it’s better to be intentional coordinated, aligned. And this is especially true right now, when people are doing new things, in different configurations, in different locations. Innovation is all the more reason you have to get it together – be intentional, not accidental.

Because there’s still so much we have to get our arms around

The pandemic, the economy, the world – not to mention the next pandemic, climate change, social change – these are broad issues and they demand a broader response.

Thinking through the implications for your members, your sponsors, your partners, your collaborators, your stakeholders, your sector – that’s how you fulfil your mission. Strategic discussions give you the space to think at the appropriate scale (or they should).

Because it’s part of your job and your role

Board and staff alike have a fiduciary duty to think about the long-range future of the organization. If you’re part of the leadership of the organization, who else will do it?

If you’re looking for a streamlined approach to strategy, I describe one here.

If you’d like to discuss practical ways to make good strategic decisions for your organization in challenging times, please get in touch.

If you’d like to talk about how I can help you figure out a strategy to deal with whatever you have going on, please get in touch.

Photo by Firos nv on Unsplash

Contact us at or call 416-737-3935 to discuss how we might be able to help.


We offer resources to help leaders of associations and other not-for-profits think about their approach to strategy and governance, from various perspectives.