In order to remain relevant and continue to thrive in the future, smart clubs focus on the strategic planning process to pave the way for their members’ futures and their future members. It isn’t surprising then that boards are looking for GM/COOs who have strategic planning experience.

Do you have experience creating a strategic plan? If so, great! If not, take some time to create a personal strategic plan – it’s a great way to become familiar with the process and will accomplish professional and personal goals that move you ahead strategically in your career and your life!

To create your own personal strategic plan follow the same steps as a club follows:

  • Develop a mission statement
  • Perform a SWOT analysis
  • Create a strategic action plan

Develop a mission statement.

The central core and guiding force of a club’s strategic plan is the mission statement. A mission statement is “a statement of the purpose of a company, organization or person; its reason for existing.” In a club, a mission statement should “guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path, and guide decision-making.” If a potential decision is in alignment with the mission statement, it makes good sense to consider it further and possibly adopt it. If the board is considering a potential action that counters the mission statement the action should be scrapped.

Do you have a personal mission statement? Is it written down? Do you see it every day? Yogi Berra stated “You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.” A personal mission statement helps you determine where you want to be.

Your personal mission statement is a written description of the person you intend to be. It is an official statement that guides you in identifying goals and providing a path. It also makes decision making easier. This written statement should be placed in a location that you will see every day – just as clubs place mission statements in the board room. If you are looking for your next career move, a great location for your mission statement is at the top of your resume (instead of an objective) and in the summary of your LinkedIn Profile.

Your personal mission statement should describe where you want to go, is achievable, and should last a decade to allow time for success. The mission statement should be written in first person, present tense. For example, my personal mission statement is “I use my technical skills, facilitation experience, and interpersonal relationships to promote quality of business and quality of life.” Notice that “I” is first person, and “use” and “promote” are present tense.

Perform a SWOT analysis.

Once you have developed your personal mission statement, the next step is to perform a personal SWOT analysis – another process that is gaining popularity in club boardrooms. Use the SWOT analysis process to identify your Strengths and Weaknesses (which are internal); and Opportunities and Threats (which are external).

There are a number of great books available and information online to help you identify your strengths including Now, Discover Your Strengths by Buckingham and Clifton. Focusing on your strengths is truly where your greatest growth potential comes from – enhancing what you already do well. It is important to know your weaknesses, but your strengths are what set you apart.

The tool that is most commonly used for this process is the SWOT matrix shown below. Simply list the strengths that you intend to enhance, weaknesses that you plan to manage, opportunities that you should seize, and threats that you will manage or avoid.

Strengths (Internal): Personal realities that will help you achieve your goals. Weaknesses (Internal): Personal realities that will make it more difficult to achieve your goals.
Opportunities (External): Outside events, conditions, or plans that might create opportunities for your goals. Threats (External): Outside events, conditions, or plans that might threaten your goals.

After brainstorming and recruiting others who you trust to assist in the SWOT analysis process you should have enough information about yourself and your environment to start writing a strategic plan.

Create a strategic action plan

If a mission statement determines where you want to be, a strategic action plan helps you get there. A personal strategic action plan is a dynamic document on which you list your primary goals and objectives within a specified amount of time.

Review your SWOT analysis and focus on your most important strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Target the most important items and the items that will have the most impact and then create your plan. A typical format and example is shown below. The action plan is dynamic and should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

Goal Objective Action Items Time Frame
Earn CCM Pass CCM exam
  • Study
  • Take certification review course
  • Take exam


  • Now until 1/12/2014
  • 1/12-16/2014
  • 1/17/2014

Earlier this year while I was conducting a GM search, I submitted some AGM candidates who were interested in interviewing for their first GM position. One of the AGM candidates shared his personal strategic plan with the search committee as part of his professional portfolio and that documentation impressed the search committee. Although he didn’t have experience at the club spearheading a strategic plan, he had created (and updated) a personal strategic plan that included both professional (career and departmental goals) and personal goals. It demonstrated that this candidate understood the importance of the strategic planning process, had some strategic planning experience, and also had a proactive personality.

The exercise of creating a personal mission statement, performing a SWOT analysis, and developing a strategic action plan will be an investment of your time and energy, but it will pay off in a return on that investment – you will have gained experience in the process and you will take charge of your career and personal growth. Consider this Will Rogers quote: “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”