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What is Strategic Planning?

Sport organisations, whether they are for-profit or not-for-profit, must surely desire two very important goals. The first goal is survival. that is to continue to exist for many years to come. It can be supposed that there would be few administrators that would knowingly and purposefully allow a sport organisation to fall into decline, and even disappear. The second goal is prosperity. that is the future of the organisation would be better than the present. It would also be supposed that with each passing year, those who manage and administrate sport organisations would want their efforts to result in improve facilities, programs, events, coaching and membership.

However, sport organisations do indeed fall into decline and disappear and in fact it is not so simple to achieve survival and prosperity. The management activity that gives the sport organisation the best chance to achieve these goals is strategic planning.

In any situation, for an organisation or an individual, the basic purpose of strategic planning is determine where you want to go and how you are going to get there. An individual, for example, might desire a particular career at some distant time in the future. They have to consider what steps they must take over the next few years to obtain the qualifications and experience needed to be successful. Organisations, like individuals, must also determine what sort of future is desirable, and then determine how this is to be achieved. Whenever an organisation or an individual sets a course of action to be taken to achieve longer-term goals, they are engaging in strategic planning.

There's a lot of terminology in strategic planning, and it is often misused. However, there are two terms that are relatively simple to understand and very pertinent to the activity of strategic planning. These two terms are as follows:

  • GOAL - Something that is desired to be achieved.
  • STRATEGY - The basic methodology that will be used to bring

    about achievement of the goal.

Returning therefore to the above statement that the basic purpose of strategic planning is determine where you want to go and how you are going to get there. then:

  • GOAL - Where you want to go.
  • STRATEGY - How you are going to get there.

In reality, strategic planning is a very necessary activity in life generally. The phrase "Failing to plan is planning to fail" (attributed to Alan Lakein and/or Winston Churchill) is often quoted in strategic planning seminars. If organisations do not engage in strategic planning, their chance of survival and a prosperous future is very much reduced. There are always forces at play that, if given the chance, will exert a negative influence on the organisation. For example, any of the following can cause participation loss and detriment to the well-being of the organisation:

  • A change in the demographics of the organisation's catchment area. For example, a dwindling population of people under 20.
  • Competition with rival sport organisations in the neighbourhood who are planning to increase their membership and participation (at the expense of your organisation).
  • A sudden loss of facilities
  • Negative publicity for your organisation as a result of incident involving a notable player or official.
  • Lifestyle changes in the population as a whole, for example, the engagement of children and young adults with computers games and social media.

Therefore the activity of strategic planning is also about keeping in touch with the real world. It helps those who manage sport organisations to:

  • take stock of the organisation's current situation in terms of strengths and weaknesses,
  • examine the harmful forces that cause organisations to go backwards, and
  • consider the opportunities that may lie ahead to improve the organisation and what it offers its customers or members.

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