The first element, vision, is the setting of a clear, focused, desirable direction that will take your organization to some specific destination. As the old saying goes, "if you don't know where you are going, any road will do." It is the same with nonprofits large and small. If there is no vision, you can do a lot of work and go nowhere. Vision does more than create a desirable endpoint.
The potential for success is created at the strategic level. Strategy, the second component, lays out the plan for how to make the vision a reality. "Failing to plan is planning to fail." Ever hear that adage? Strategies help organizations stay focused on the most important actions that will keep positive forward progress toward achieving the vision and mission. They serve as guidelines, determining what kind of goals should be established at the operational level. Good strategic plans include balanced focus on these four areas: finances, constituent and competitive edge, processes, and people. They are supported by the organization's culture and not impeded by it.
While potential for success is created at the strategic level, potential becomes success at the operational level. There are many who create great plans yet fail to realize their goals and vision. Execution, the third element, is where the rubber meets the road. It is at this point where the goals and objectives, measurements and accountability come into play by way of action plans and prioritization. This is where managers provide the coaching, direction and support that people need to do their jobs successfully, making contributions to the overall success of the organization. This is where the resources, such as money, time, equipment and tools are planned for and provided.