Critical Steps in Co-Op
Strategic Planning

Given the massive disruptions ahead for the industry, it is absolutely vital that electric cooperatives have a comprehensive strategic planning architecture in place. (Last month's blog discussed this key issue.) Moreover, to be most effective, strategic planning for electric cooperatives must follow a specific approach, and it must use well-established tools and frameworks. Otherwise, the plan that results from the process will be weaker than it should be, and the co-op's success will be dimnished. Now is the time for electric cooperatives to start taking the steps necessary to ensure that their strategic planning process is up to the task.

In this month's blog, we focus on how your co-op can ensure that its strategic plan is based upon the best information possible and has the strongest support of directors, senior staff, and employees.

The GreatCo-Ops Strategic Planning Process

  • Understanding Strategy. Your board and staff must understand the importance of strategic planning, the key role of business strategy in the co-op's success, and how to use the core strategic planning tools. The GreatCo-Ops team offers to provide readings and formal training to directors and staff to ensure that they fully understand and embrace strategic planning and are ready to engage in the process effectively.
  • External Analysis. Our team uses well-established decision-making models to help the board and staff better understand the key disruptors on the horizon. (We will discuss this step in detail next month, so stay tuned!)
  • Internal Analysis. We work with senior co-op leaders and directors to help them develop a common understanding about how the co-op is performing, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and where it needs to focus to improve. Both Internal and External Analysis are based upon in-depth research by our team to ensure that the discussions among board and staff are based upon a deep understanding of the industry and the cooperative.
  • Opportunity Analysis. This is where External and Internal Analysis are brought together. We work with directors and staff to create consensus on the most important issues that the cooperative must address to ensure that it maximizes its opportunities and minimizes its threats. In other words, Opportunity Analysis is where the team begins to come together and make decisions about where the staff should focus during the development of the co-op's formal strategic plan. Opportunity Analysis includes a prioritization exercise that engages everyone in the process of determining which strategic alternatives are of greatest urgency and importance for co-op management.

A key goal of these first four steps is to ensure that everyone in the co-op has the same vision of the future. Our team has worked with hundreds of electric co-op directors and senior staff members to help them develop a common understanding of the future. This way, there is less conflict and greater teamwork when it comes time to implement key changes to help the co-op thrive.

  • Plan Development. An electric cooperative's formal strategic plan must include a clear articulation of the organization's core values, vision, mission, priorities, goals, initiatives, and more. We will cover this crucial step in a separate blog post soon. You won't want to miss it!
  • Implementation. This is where most leadership teams fail, but it does not have to be this way. A well-designed strategic planning process will yield a plan that is rational and based firmly upon a foundation of data and detailed analysis. Importantly, this implementation plan ties to the financial plan such that resource needs are identified and formally allocated in advance. The plan will have the full support of the board, senior staff, employees, and members, making successful implementation much more likely.
  • Performance Monitoring. Too few electric cooperatives have a performance monitoring approach that is suitable for the industry of the future. Given the importance of this topic, we will cover it in an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned!

We would love to learn more about your co-op's approach to developing its strategic plan. Please contact us today so we can set up a time for a call! And, you can learn more about our approach to strategic planning for electric cooperatives by clicking here.

Thanks for reading!