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Strategic Planning

Best practices on strategic planning

GREATER ATLANTA CHAPTER: Using a Collaboration Tool for Reflection and Strategic Planning

SUMMARY: In mid-2022, the Greater Atlanta Chapter board dedicated their monthly meeting to reflecting on the first half of the year and outlining changes they wanted to make in the future. With an entirely new board, it was particularly important to take the time to reflect on the chapter’s successes, challenges, and potential risks to plan strategically for the future. This technique allowed the board to celebrate the work they had done, address immediate issues, and set expectations moving forward. The use of Miro, a free collaborative tool, allowed all board members to contribute their ideas to the discussion simultaneously and created a living, editable representation of the board’s thoughts and conclusions. As a result of their meeting, the chapter was able to streamline their communication processes and establish a stronger volunteer engagement strategy to improve volunteer retention and succession planning.

YEAR: 2022

SOUTHEASTERN WISCONSIN CHAPTER: Data-Driven Chapter Governance (Including Wild Apricot, Power BI, and Business Intelligence Dashboards)

SUMMARY: To strengthen the chapter’s operational strategy and governance, the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter constructed a series of business intelligence dashboards to track chapter data. The board uses Wild Apricot and Power BI to pull data that allows it to identify strategic opportunities, set goals, and define metrics for success. As a result, the chapter has developed a new data-driven approach to decision making, improved chapter operations in a number of fields, and discovered new areas for further exploration and growth.

YEAR: 2022

LOS ANGELES CHAPTER: Biannual Strategic Planning Process

SUMMARY: The Los Angeles Chapter needed a comprehensive strategic planning process to establish goals for chapter programming, event planning, social media, marketing, and volunteer recruitment. The chapter, spearheaded by Kavita Gupta, developed a biannual strategic planning process and detailed strategic plan template to further chapter goals. The board, including incoming members, met in person in the fall to create action plans for the following year and again in the new year to refine their plans and follow up on execution. In the year following the implementation of their new planning process, the chapter saw a 50 percent increase in chapter meeting attendance, a 10 percent increase in membership, and significant cost reductions. The in-person process also fostered feelings of camaraderie amongst the board members and allowed them to streamline the leadership transition between incoming and outgoing board members.

YEAR: 2022

North Dakota: Using a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis to Align Chapter Strategy to CARE

SUMMARY: The North Dakota Chapter needed actionable and measurable goals for its high-level ideas to continue growing. The board completed a S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the six areas of CARE for each board position to identify areas of weaknesses and opportunities. The chapter then used their findings to create work groups to determine an actionable and measurable strategy that aligns with CARE.

YEAR: 2021

RESEARCH TRIANGLE AREA: Templates for strategic planning with CARE

SUMMARY: The chapter created a strategic planning template and tracker which incorporated CARE Plus. Each board member contributed to their respective areas of the chapter’s two-year operating plan using the strategic planning template. The template was tied to the budget process so every goal in the plan is specifically linked with an income or expense. To help track the board’s progress throughout the year, the president elect created a CARE Plus Tracker spreadsheet that expanded on and incorporated multiple existing ATD CARE Plus templates. Due to the templates and organization of the process, the budget and strategic plan were completed in a timely manner and decreased the approval time by 50 percent. Tracking their progress throughout the year helped the board fill out its CARE survey accurately and efficiently.

YEAR: 2021

CENTRAL OHIO CHAPTER: Board Goal and Accountability Plan

SUMMARY: Through the adoption of a board goal and accountability plan, the chapter board successfully focused its efforts, prioritized initiatives, and added value for chapter members. To avoid repeating the same strategic goals from year to year, chapter leaders carefully reviewed the membership survey to determine long-term goals by position. The board reviewed the goals at each board meeting and at its mid-year planning session to establish accountability. This initiative increased board engagement and enabled the chapter to achieve all of its strategic goals.

YEAR: 2019


SUMMARY: After spending several years struggling to recruit new volunteer leaders and keep members engaged, the Central Massachusetts Chapter was on the brink of dissolution. The chapter sent out an urgent communication about volunteer needs that yielded seven new board members. Following a comprehensive onboarding program, the new chapter leaders attended a planning meeting during which they selected their desired board roles and identified strategic goals for the chapter. As a result of this new energy and leadership on the board, the chapter has attracted new members, increased its joint membership percentage, improved event marketing, and made events profitable.

YEAR: 2019

AUSTIN CHAPTER: Getting Strategic With Your Organization

SUMMARY: The chapter transformed its leadership team from a flat organization to one that functions more smoothly and fosters succession planning. The Austin Chapter transitioned from 13 board members to a group of 23 chapter leaders to improve efficiency. By being transparent with membership and explaining the changes at several meetings, the chapter filled multiple director positions. The path helps members build leadership experience and transitions them through escalating roles—from member to volunteer to director to president elect to president. The pipeline also helped pace the leadership, allowing the chapter to have engaged directors by lowering the rate of burnout.

YEAR: 2018

ROCKY MOUNTAIN CHAPTER: After Action Review Process/Evaluation for Process Improvement

SUMMARY: The chapter created and implemented an evaluation process for events. Once each event or activity was complete, four key questions are posed and discussed: 1) What was supposed to happen? 2) What did happen? 3) Why did it happen? 4) What we can do to improve for the next time? Since implementing this evaluation process, the chapter has seen its events and activities improve beyond the data they were getting through its surveys. Event attendees provided general feedback on surveys, but their comments did not address the event’s planning and coordination. The after-review process identified a strategy for how the board or the coordinators can provide a better event by strengthening the process.

YEAR: 2018

ROCHESTER CHAPTER: Adding Membership Value With a Small and Mighty Team

SUMMARY: After attending the ATD Chapter Leaders Conference (ALC), a member of the board brought back a strategic planning tool. The board used this tool to review the chapter’s current practices and identified areas for improvement. The team looked at everything the chapter was producing through a lens of how it adds value for the members, promotes community engagement, and increases the chapter’s operational focus. The board underwent this process in a strategy meeting, which helped the board become more organized and design ways to communicate more effectively with the chapter members.

YEAR: 2017

NEW YORK CITY CHAPTER: Chapter Goal Template & Dashboard

SUMMARY: To keep annual goals, initiatives, and activities on target, the chapter created a goal setting template and monthly dashboard to track results. At the chapter’s board retreat in January, these tools fostered discussions on how to strengthen and grow the chapter. The documents have been used to develop the monthly board meeting agenda and are reviewed at the start of each meeting. Outcomes of the discussions led to the delivery of several half-day and full-day programs. Operating the Chapter like a business allowed the board to develop teamwork, stay focused on our goals and achieve results. These tools allowed for that process to happen by providing focus, accountability and insight as to our successes and when course corrections needed to be made. The Chapter experienced a significant increase so far this year in membership (+11%), corporate membership (+66%), member retention (+14%), power membership (+28%) and the chapter achieved its goal of 35% for the first time since 2013 with an increase in revenue (+11%). Discussions around the goals outlined led to the creation and delivery of additional events in the area of coaching, generating both increased member engagement and revenue.

YEAR: 2017

CENTRAL INDIANA CHAPTER: Recruit > Engage > Retain: Strategic Planning Retreat Agenda

SUMMARY: To ensure that the yearly board retreat allowed for actionable items, the agenda centered on three topics: recruit new members, engage new members, and retain members. Any topic that arose that did not support the three goals was put aside. By concentrating on only the three goals, the board was able to focus all attention on building accountability and built in methods to measure its progress and success. Because of the retreat agenda’s structure, the board progressed towards or completed all goals by June, allowing the board to focus on secondary goals sooner.

YEAR: 2017

KENTUCKIANA CHAPTER: Continuing the Rejuvenation by Developing a Three Year Strategic Plan

SUMMARY: Just a few short years ago, the Kentuckiana Chapter was on the brink of calling it quits. After a couple years in the rebuilding period, the executive team wanted to continue the excitement of the hard work. To keep up the momentum, the chapter brought in a national strategist to facilitate a full-day strategic planning session for the entire board. At the end of the session, a new mission, vision, and three-year strategic plan was developed. The board outlined specific behaviors, beliefs, and its Five P’s for Success: passion, people, powerful programs, partnerships, and promotion. The team left the session energized for a successful year and ambitiously pursuing the same goal.

YEAR: 2017

DALLAS CHAPTER: Strategic Planning and Implementation

SUMMARY: The Dallas Chapter took a strategic approach to restructuring and implemented a new model of its leadership, the board, and the chapter to increase engagement both within the chapter and with corporations in the local area. The chapter desired to recruit more volunteers to not overwork the current team. The chapter also believed that leadership in the field needed more of a platform to be recognized for their programs, best practices, and corporate efforts locally. The board took ATD’s framework and structured the chapter’s programs around the ATD Competency Model. The chapter designed each quarter of the year to align with four core principles: organizational development, talent management, innovation learning solutions, and managing learning programs and teams. As a result, the chapter set a record of more than 400 people at events (previous average was 180), grew in membership and revenue for the chapter, increased corporate participation and engagement, and recruited up to 22 sponsors.

YEAR: 2017

DETROIT CHAPTER: Strategic Plan Process

SUMMARY: The chapter developed and executed a strategic planning process. This process resulted in a completed strategic plan with four distinct and defined key result areas and corresponding goals, a membership communication piece, focus areas and goals for each Vice President, specific criteria and review processes of how the chapter is lead and meeting its mission statement.

YEAR: 2016

HOUSTON CHAPTER: Launching a Leadership Council

SUMMARY: The Houston Chapter created a leadership council consisting of senior leaders within the learning and development community, who work as advisors in setting strategy for the local chapter.

YEAR: 2014

CASCADIA CHAPTER: Becoming a Welcoming Organization

SUMMARY: The Cascadia Chapter started an initiative to become a more welcoming organization. With the help of outside facilitators, the board identified key areas for chapter improvement. The chapter focused on the key areas and has seen increased membership and program attendance, and more volunteers getting involved at the board level.

YEAR: 2012

CENTRAL INDIANA CHAPTER: Board Development: Chapter Mission

SUMMARY: Through an interactive process as a board, the chapters use the majority of their 2010 Board retreat to update their mission and vision to reflect the current state of the chapter; they used this time to develop a set of values to support their ways of working together.

YEAR: 2010


SUMMARY: The chapter didn’t have a point person or someone that was in charge of their website and social media presence. Various board members were constantly updating the website which caused much confusion. To deal with this, the chapter created a new board position titled “VP of Technology.” The position serves a marketing role to recruit new members and to encourage current members to be more involved.

YEAR: 2010

SACRAMENTO CHAPTER: Chapter Five Year Strategic Plan

SUMMARY: The Sacramento chapter employed a formal structure to identify core value propositions representing the chapter members and defined an action plan for the next five years. The chapter board formerly operated on lackluster long-range goals without the benefit of vetting through the membership or achievable objectives toward success.

YEAR: 2009


SUMMARY: This board retreat and strategic planning event allowed the new and existing board members to build relationships and identifying goals and initiatives for the coming year.

YEAR: 2008

RIVER CITIES CHAPTER: Chapter on the Rise

SUMMARY: In December of 2008, the entire board of directors for River Cities Chapter changed. During a time of continuing decline in local ASTD participation, a new management team was born. Since then, meeting space was donated, time and resources for web development was volunteered, and personal donations were made to get the chapter up and running again. Membership has increased and program attendance is increasing each month.

YEAR: 2008

NEBRASKA CHAPTER: Running it like a Business

SUMMARY: ASTD is no longer just a training organization, but a business that strategically supports workplace learning across the globe. In this SOS, ASTD Nebraska describes how they spent the last three years developing strategic goals, realigning for financial commitment, and tapping into their volunteer base through long-term strategic planning to be able to provide a stronger organization.

YEAR: 2007

SAN DIEGO CHAPTER: Strategic Planning and Transitioning

SUMMARY: The San Diego chapter’s submission provides tools used for developing a solid strategic plan using the chapter’s planning model.

YEAR: 2006

EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA CHAPTER: Build and Maintain Your Board on Solid Foundations

SUMMARY: The Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter restructured the chapter board, developing new job Descriptions, leadership development as part of a yearly action plan, and a five year strategic plan.

YEAR: 2006

SOUTH CENTRAL WISCONSIN CHAPTER: ASTD-SCWC Extreme Makeover: Using Appreciative Inquiry for Strategic Planning

SUMMARY: The South Central Wisconsin Chapter developed a strategic planning effort that used appreciative inquiry to engage all members in planning future programs and services. Appreciative inquiry uses dialogue about positive past experiences in order to build wishes for the future, rather than focusing on problems that need to be solved. As a result, it is an extremely energizing process.

YEAR: 2004

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