From The Art Of Community by O'Reilly (http://www.artofcommunityonline.org) by Jono Bacon
Building a Strategic Plan
The purpose of a strategic plan is to document your goals and ambitions for a given period of time and to provide a central body of agreement in your organization or community. It should clarify what your objectives are and which goals are part of those objectives; it should also state how progress is measured and who is leading the work. A detailed, realistic strategic plan is hugely valuable for your community. Having a strategy does not mean that you have bent to the gods of bureaucracy.
A strategic plan is broken into objectives that we seek to achieve before a given milestone. This milestone can be measured in either time or a specific achievement. Your choice is entirely dependent on the type of community and project you are involved in.
You should think carefully about what kind of milestone you want to apply to your project. It is far better to choose a milestone that is six months away and achieve less than pick a milestone that is two years away and achieve more. Regular milestone achievements give your community a much-needed dose of excitement and satisfaction.
Choose your milestones now (e.g., using a fixed cycle, a given set of features, a given date, or some other indicator of completion).
Structuring the Plan
With your milestones decided, you can focus on the structure of the strategic plan. We will familiarize ourselves with this structure and then begin discussing how we can identify the objectives and goals to fill it. Before we begin, you should remember to fulfill your role as a facilitator and work with your community in a transparent fashion to combine input, feedback, and opinion into a single consistent plan that everyone can follow.
The challenge here is that there is no cut-and-dried path to community, and the same applies to your strategic planning. As you grow and build your community, you should feel free to experiment, explore, and refine the approach we use here. You should develop a strategic plan that works for you and your specific community.
Our approach here involves defining a number of objectives. These are the broad high-level things that you want to achieve. Each objective is divided into a number of goals. Each goal includes three pieces of information.
- The success criteria describe a set of measurable methods for evaluating the goal’s success. You should be able to look at this statement and determine straightaway whether the goal was achieved (example: 20 new community members).
- The implementation plan describes what tasks need to happen to achieve the goal. These are a set of directions that clearly indicate the steps involved in achieving the goal.
- Finally, and this is optional with many communities, we specify the owner: the person responsible for the goal. Accountability is an important element in building successful community: when people feel responsible for their work, they ensure positive outcomes are generated.
Your plan should not live in isolation. Its final home really shouldn’t be a piece of paper in your office drawer or a random document on your computer. It should be shared. It should be read. It should become a core document in your community.