Strategic planning is superior to other types of planning in all areas and sectors, including civil society organizations.
Croatia still belongs to the circle of countries in which the transition takes place, which classifies it as an unstable environment. Transition, according to different theories, also has different durations, and it is most commonly believed, and according to Leslie Holmes (1997), that the time of transition implies a period of ten to twenty years. Analyzing the development of transition in Croatia, one can accept the theory set by Dankwart A. Rustow (1970), that the transition period lasts at least one generation.
So, regardless of whether we are officially in transition or post-transition, strategic planning in our environment is recommended, and even necessary for the stabilization (but not petrification) of the entire system.
In the unpredictable economic, social, political, and even technological times in which we undoubtedly live, every organization needs a solid point to which it can refer, which allows the organization to survive in moments of instability.
In Croatia, the prevailing opinion is that strategic plans are “some documents that collect dust in drawers”, so there are few organizations that decide on the demanding step of introducing strategic planning. One can often hear the sentence: “Who knows what can happen, who can plan anything in this country?”
It is true that in the short-term planning cycle, as practiced in our environment, any longer-term goal setting seems like an unnecessary waste of time.
But there are many reasons why, despite these arguments, strategic planning is one way to survive even in adverse circumstances.
First of all, in order to approach strategic planning, minimal education of the members of the organization is required. Everyone, even the smallest capacity building, strengthens the organization, and the education that all those involved in working on a strategic level should go through, strengthens communication, thus building integration that in itself gives positive effects.
Dragojević and Dragičević Šešić (2008) specify the reasons why each organization should introduce long-term strategic planning:
• to achieve stability and security of the organization
• to be better prepared to respond to unexpected shocks from the environment
• for greater flexibility and readiness for changes in gait (creation of systematic preconditions for ad hoc changes)
• works for a better negotiating position of the organization
• for greater credibility and recognition of the organization in the environment
• to increase the quality of the program.
To these six points, I would certainly add raising the awareness of the members of the organization themselves about the importance and value of their own work on common goals. Although members join civil society organizations voluntarily and for common interests related to the reasons for establishment stated in the Statute, strategic planning enables better thinking about the present and the future, the initial situation and the development of activities.
Strategic planning “is the future”, looks ahead, anticipates possible development scenarios, and also considers various solutions to potential threats to the survival of the organization.
The decision to start drafting a strategic plan that will be implemented after drafting should be confirmed by the selected leadership of the organization, and it is desirable to motivate as many members and external associates as possible to actively participate.
Holders of the idea of creating a strategic plan of the organization can choose different types of motivation (self-motivation, external motivation, presenting examples of good practice or a combination).
Whichever path you choose, it is important to achieve the goal – to convince members that making a strategic plan for the organization is truly the most effective way of planning and a necessary activity.