This is the third in a series on strategic planning in the nonprofit sector. Part 1 presented “guiding ideas”: values, purpose, mission, and vision. The vision was further specified into visionary objectives. Part 2 presented a particular form of the SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats are determined for each visionary objective and from each of the four perspectives included in the Balanced Scorecard. The SWOT analysis then went into surfacing two types of challenges to be faced: overcoming adversity, and making the most of the advantages.
The Part 3 will describe the crafting of strategy: How to go past the challenges in order to attain the visionary objectives? 
Within the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) approach, STRATEGY is a set of mutually supporting themes that will drive the organization to materialize its visionary goals. There will be one strategic theme for each visionary goal. In turn, the themes are translated into strategic enablers that sweep the four BSC perspectives namely, beneficiaries and the community, financial accountability, internal processes and organizational dynamics. The measurements for these enablers constitute a “balanced scorecard”.
The strategic themes have been referred to in the literature as the pillars of excellence. They express what the leadership of the organization believes that needs to be done in order to materialize the visionary objectives. The following examples refer to a personal growth NPO that strives to materialize their long term vision in which: they have become recognized as a progressive leader in the profession; and the tools and experiences provided the beneficiaries have enabled them to enjoy a better quality of life through their successful transformation, growth and advancement.
It can be seen in the above examples that the five strategic themes are synergistic in supporting the organization in attaining its long term objectives. The next task in this planning process consists in identifying the areas in which action needs to be taken to implement the themes that is, the strategic enabling areas.
The BSC approach suggests that the strategic enablers be displayed in such a way that the logic of implementation becomes apparent through deploying causal relationships. This will produce a “strategy map”. As shown in the figure below, there exists an important difference between for-profit and non-profit organizations. The difference stems from the purpose of each of them.
The following example demonstrates the above causal schematic for the theme “Develop a workforce of ambassadors to foster a network of supporters committed to strengthen the image & reputation of the organization and its outreach to potential beneficiaries.” The organization chose to implement it as depicted in the figure below.
The causal relationships in the schematic express that if the enablers actually occur, then the theme will have been properly implemented. Naturally, repeating the application of the causal schematic for each theme and then superimposing them generates the full strategy map: a powerful, visual tool for becoming a strategy focused organization.
One possible use of such a compact visual representation of the organization’s strategy is to make it available to all the staff members and volunteers as a “pocket strategy guide”. That will remind everyone of what the organizations aspires to be and the path that has been chosen, its strategy.
It would take a form similar to the one depicted here.
The next following step in the strategic planning process encompasses measurements and implementation. That is, indicators, goals, and initiatives. This will be the subject of Part IV in this series.
 The main sources for this article are the white papers by Ascendant Strategy Management Group found in: http://www.ascendantsmg.com/about-us/whitepapers/. Accessed on 12-01-2012.
Arturo J. Bencosme-Dávila is an independent management consultant and coach, an affiliate faculty with CPS, Dual Language Program, Master in Nonprofit Management, and a CPS Ignatian Faculty Scholar. His 35+ year path through engineering, business & nonprofit executive, strategic planning, organizational development, MBA teaching, and management consulting have led him into emphasizing organizational learning: the art and practice of expanding the capacity for clarifying the desired future and the means to attain it.
His education includes an Engineer degree from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (Caracas, Venezuela), and two M.Sc. and a PhD from Stanford University. Dr. Bencosme’s “personal legend” includes the intent to reinforce the epic spirit in individuals and organizations, especially in the nonprofit sector. His favorite Jesuit value is to be a “contemplative in action”.