Developing a Strategic Plan

Developing a Strategic Plan

(a very brief overview)
(taken from: The Community Tool Box*)

The strategic planning process is about groups of people deciding together what they want to accomplish, and how they are going to get there. Through strategic planning, the process by which a group defines its own "VMOSA;" that is, its Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Action Plans.

By creating this process in a group effort (taking care to involve both people affected by the problem and those with the abilities to change it), it allows your organization to build consensus around your focus and the necessary steps your organization should take. VMOSA allows your organization to focus on your short-term goals while keeping sight of your long-term vision and mission.

VMOSA = Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Action Plans

1. Vision  =  (the dream)  =  Your vision communicates what your organization believes are the ideal conditions for your community; how things would look if the issue important to you were perfectly addressed. This utopian dream is generally articulated by one or more phrases or vision statements, which are brief proclamations that convey the community's dreams for the future. By developing a vision statement, your organization makes the beliefs and governing principles of your organization clear to the greater community (as well as to your own members).

2. Mission  =  (the what and why)  =  Developing mission statements are the next step in the action planning process. An organization's mission statement describes what the group is going to do, and why it's going to do that. Mission statements are similar to vision statements, but they're more concrete, and they are definitely more "action-oriented" than vision statements. The mission might refer to a problem or a goal. And, while they don't go into a lot of detail, they start to hint - very broadly - at how your organization might go about fixing the problems it has noted.

3. Objectives  =  (how much of what will be accomplished by when)  =  Once an organization has developed its mission statement, its next step is to develop the specific objectives that are focused on achieving that mission. Objectives refer to specific measurable results for the initiative's broad goals.

4. Strategies  =  (the how)  =  The next step in the process of VMOSA is developing your strategies. Strategies explain how the initiative will reach its objectives. Generally, organizations will have a wide variety of strategies that include people from all of the different parts of the community. These strategies range from very broad strategies that encompass people and resources from many different parts of the community to very specific strategies that take place on a much smaller level.

5. Action plan  =  (what change will happen; who will do what by when to make it happen )  =  Finally, an organization's action plan describes in great detail exactly how strategies will be implemented to accomplish the objectives developed earlier in this process. The plan refers to: a) specific changes to be sought, and b) the specific action steps necessary to bring about changes in all of the relevant sectors, or parts, of the community.


This VMOSA strategic planning process helps community groups define their dream, set their goals, define ways to meet those goals, and finally, develop practical ways bring about needed changes.

Of course, once you have finished designing the strategic plan or "VMOSA" for your organization, you are just beginning in this work. Your action plan will need to be tried and tested and revised, then tried and tested and revised again. You'll need to obtain feedback from community members, add and subtract elements of your plan based on that feedback.

If you believe your organization might benefit from using this process, we invite you to move on to the next sections of this chapter, which explain in some depth how to design and develop your own strategic plan.


*The Community Tool Box is a global resource for free information on essential skills for building healthy communities.

See the website:






Action Plans

The Community Tool Box

is a global resource for free information on essential skills for building healthy communities.

See the website:

For more detailed information about Developing a Strategic Plan
go to the website and click on the link:

"See Table of Contents"

and go to Part D - Chapter 8