Make Time for Strategic Thinking

Do executives at your club know what a strategic plan really is?

Club executives often confuse a strategic plan with a master plan, a capital expense budget or standard operating procedures when in fact it is none of those things.

“A strategic plan is an all-encompassing game plan. It is a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. It is a tight, clear-cut statement of what it is your club is trying to do,” explained Henry DeLozier of Global Golf Advisors during a seminar for club managers earlier this spring. “It’s a crucial document because every club needs to know where it is going.”

Strategic planning is receiving more focus in private clubs now than in the past. DeLozier believes this is due to the fact that more is expected of club leaders now (and more of leaders in general). He also says that clubs are expected to function in a more businesslike setting. Oversupplied, competitive markets require more focus and different types of clubs use different models of strategic planning. That’s why strategic planning is more important now than ever before.

The strategic plan should answer the questions what and why. It should not answer when, who or how because the answers to those questions are tactical. To keep strategy and tactics separate, DeLozier urges executives to remember the following:

Strategy = What. A primary duty of the board is to develop the strategy for the future of the club in a three to five-year life cycle. “Strategy is doing the right things for the club and its members. It is conceptually planning what the club will do and why,” he explained.

Tactics = How. This is a primary duty of management. Tactics are about executing the strategy and doing things right for the current period of time.

DeLozier urges all club executives to block off time regularly to think strategically. “Find the time to collect, study and share information. Strategy is part of a leader’s job today. Encourage strategic thinking in such a way that it becomes cultural at your club,” he concluded.

This article was authored by GGA Partner Henry DeLozier for the Private Club Advisor.