Have you ever sat on a board and wondered from month to month the direction, what has been done and why you are sitting there? I have and it is frustrating. When you donate your time to a board, you want to ensure your time is well spent and that your time has an impact on the association.

All boards should and likely do have a strategic plan. This tells them the direction the board and the association are heading and hopefully through their role on the board, they have a say in those key priorities. But does the board also get to see a tactical plan on a bi-annual or quarterly basis to see how administration is making their strategy a reality? I could not believe the difference it made to the association I manage when we put a tactical plan in front of them with budgets and timelines and responsibilities. When the committees of the association were given the opportunity to develop their tactical plans and budgets for presentation to the board. And how far we have been able to progress the association through a simple process of identifying tactics. We are now in the process of renewing the strategy with a new 3-year plan and the board is excited because they know that they are moving the association forward. They see the progress and they see the impact their participation is having. The committees are also working towards goals and deadlines, spending budgets they have always had, but never spent. The conversations around the table now have a deeper meaning and are focused on the tactics and the progress, rather having the same conversations month after month.

It’s easy really. Start with a survey of the board asking about their key priorities. Do a typical SWOT analysis and get input ahead of time so that the board’s time in the strategic planning workshop is useful and efficient. Hold a half day strategy session with the board with all the key priorities already put up on the flip charts or digital flipcharts. Spend some time discussing and narrowing down the key priorities. My guess is you will have a lot of commonalities between the responses and this will be an easy task. Then get the board to list the things they want to see out of the key priorities. Example: if the board suggests that organizational capacity is a key priority, now get them to list the things they want to see. Clearer budgets, updated bylaws or policies, an organizational review, etc. These are the key deliverables. Once they have completed the lists for all the key priorities, it’s yours as the Executive Director or Manager to take away and develop. If there are subcommittees, you allow the subcommittees the opportunity to identify how they will achieve the key deliverables assigned. The tactics might look like this:

Bylaws and Policies

  • Complete a full review of all bylaws and policies Q2 – 2021
  • Do best practices research on similar associations Q2 – 2021
  • Write or revise bylaws and policies Q3 – 2021
  • Provide revised bylaws for approval to the board Q4 – 2021

Basically, it’s a formal to do list. Maybe in the above you decide to hire a consultant to do the work. You would then also add the hiring and budgets to those. The best tactical plans I have seen include the subject, the timeframe, the budget, the person responsible and the result achieved. Another example is below.





The Key Priority was Organizational Capacity, then one of the Key Deliverables was a New Member Onboarding Package and the tactical plan is outlined below.

These plans not only help move the organization forward, respecting the time and effort of those who sit on the board, but it also provides the Executive Director/Manager a great tool to show the board what they are doing. Boards have a tendency to ask those questions, particularly when the Executive Director/Manager are arms length and only seeing the board once a month or even less.

TSI can help you and your board through this process! Contact us today.