What’s getting easier next year? Thinking about strategic capacity

mountain and cloudsI work with a lot of really ambitious organizations and companies, which is fantastic. The leaders think strategically, set stretch goals, and want to tackle the significant issues that are holding them back.

One of the toughest questions often turns out to be, how will this get done?

Do you have more resources coming in the door? (Can you throw money at the problem?)

That’s often not the case, so the next question becomes, what is going to make business as usual easier so you can free up resources for strategic initiatives? And this is where we often get bogged down.

There’s a simple technique that can help here – just make a list all the things that are going to provide you with strategic capacity next year. Think about things that are easing up, vanishing, fading away…

  • Can you ease up on some of your change management work? For instance, does this year represent the tipping point where you go from “struggling to establish the new org structure” to “the new normal is humming along just fine”?
  • Have you managed to keep all your key staff, so you can take advantage of them being higher on their respective learning curves, rather than spending a lot of time training and coaching?
  • Do you have new strength in the leadership?
  • Are you winding down some significant products, programs or projects, thus freeing up resources?
  • Have you streamlined operations or processes for everyone?
  • Is an onerous regulation ending or easing? (Stop laughing; it happens sometimes!)

The list can be useful even if it’s very short.

Maybe it’s even more useful if it is short. That tells you that either your strategic initiatives better have a payback period of less than a year (so you can start reaping the benefits quickly, since you don’t have slack in your system), or that you plain old aren’t going to achieve them all.

Which may take you back to resources – perhaps raising prices, forming a partnership, or otherwise bringing in more money is the key to pulling off your strategy? And wouldn’t it be better to know that sooner rather than later, so you can get going on it?

I recently heard a budgeting expert say that, when people think things will be cheaper than they are, and then they can’t get what they need with the resources they have, they often blame the budgeting process itself. But the real blame lies with the bad inputs the budget got. For all that it’s exciting to aim high, a lack of realism can also lead to disillusionment, which kills vision.

If you’d like to talk about how we can help you create a realistic, achievable strategic plan, please get in touch.

Contact us at meredith@meredithlow.com 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.