Running a business without a strategic plan is like driving around with a blindfold and earplugs. Since your HOA is a business it only makes sense the board would want to have a strategic plan to help move the community forward on a single defined path. Many HOA boards I’ve worked with do not have a strategic plan in place nor any focus on created one. I know the value in getting everyone on the same page with a strategic plan and I wanted to review how creating a plan can benefit an HOA. I had an article published in the Central Florida CAI Newsletter with my high-level thoughts on the subject. You can access the entire newsletter here: CAICF Q2 2018 Newsletter with pages 22-24. Being a consultant, my default mode of operation is to assess the current situation, identify issues and implement solutions. This mindset would be well served for many HOA boards as they look to manage the tactical part of the association but need to have a clear strategic path by which to follow. I’m sure many board members would say, “that’s what we pay our management company for” or “strategic plans are for large companies not for our community”. I’ve always been blunt in my discussions, so I’ll state this fact as clear I as I can make it - your HOA is run by the board of directors and NOT the community manager. Moreover, if you don’t think your association is a business then look at where your revenues come from - straight from the bank accounts of your neighbors. If you’re charged with overseeing the activities of a community where your neighbors are paying their hard earned dollars, wouldn’t you want to use every available tool to create a robust decision making environment? Like the title of my article says, “Moving from Social Club to Game Changer”, having a defined strategic plan in place can be a major shift in how your board operates the community and will increase the effectiveness of any actions taken by the board. I’ve said it before - there is no room for board members who think serving on a board is all about a) social fun times b) a power trip or c) the ability to “get” those you don’t like. Being a board director is a professional role and should be treated no different than how you would go about the job at which you earn a paycheck. Does your HOA have a strategic plan? Has it even been considered?
When I took over as President of my HOA, there was no strategic plan in place. Over the past 5 years we have built out a full 3-5-7 year plan along with ancillary plans for branding and disaster planning. I can tell you the efficiency at which our board makes decisions is amazing. Everyone knows the path we are going, what are core brand elements are and can focus on making sure the decision aligns to the overarching plan of the community. Getting started with developing a strategic plan is not as difficult as you think. For a board who does not want to spend the time or does not have the skill set to accomplish it, I would recommend seeking an outside consultant who can facilitate getting something created. A consultant can facilitate a deep dive session to gather all pertinent details and generate a draft plan for review - I do this all the time and the use of an external consultant helps create a more robust plan as the personal interests of homeowners, board members or management company representative is not creating a bias in how the plan is developed. Once the plan has been created, it is imperative it gets communicated to all homeowners. Homeowners should feel an ownership in the plan and have the chance to voice concerns, questions and comments. Capturing feedback will help create better dialogue between the board and homeowners along with making the strategic plan a community owned path forward that is bigger than any board member and becomes the living document that helps create value for everyone in the community.
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