Tim Cool, is the founder of Cool Solutions Group, a company that helps faith-based organizations with planning, development, and life-cycle management of their facilities. I always enjoy reading what Tim puts out. I find that his books, articles, and blog posts have wide application to other industries. Sections of his writing have practical applicability to what we do in our fire prevention and life safety organizations.
In his most recent book, Plan 4 It: The 4 Essential Master Plans for Every Church, Tim details the essential elements for creating a Master Plan. As I read, I found that the master plan process is something that should be applied to, not just facilities and structures, but to our organization and its development.
A Master Plan can be defined as, a comprehensive study of an area/facility/industry that usually describes the short-, medium-, and long-term development plans necessary to meet future demand. Tim's three dimensions of Master Planning can be described as:
- a programmatic study of current and long-range initiatives, and what facilities/resources may assist in accomplishing those plans.
- A vision of the future, beginning with today's realities.
- A clear and intentional big-picture view of the organizations future based on the hopes, culture, DNA, and desires of the organization.
When initiating a Master Plan process there are 4 plans that need to be created:
- Organizational Master Plan
- Financial Master Plan
- Facility/Resource Master Plan
- Sustaining Master Plan
Organizational Master Plan
This plan identifies who we are, why we do what we do, and how we do it. The first step in the master-planning process is to know your organization, and be clear on what it provides or should be providing. There are 7 critical questions that can provide clarity and focus in this process.
- What is the vision for our organization?
- Who is our "target" audience/customer/client/people group?
- What is our DNA as an organization?
- How do we define "value" for our organization?
- What is our "story", and how should it be communicated?
- If space, resources, or finances were not an issues, what programs or offerings would be start, provide, or expand?
- If we do not start, provide, or expand the above service, what impact will that have on our community/customer/client?
Apply these to your organization and current situation. Based on your answers to the above questions, is your organization where it needs to be? What needs to happen for it to get where it should be? What needs to happen so that the impact and value added will be improved?
Financial Master Plan
This plan allows you to determine the financial feasibility of your organizations short- and long-term vision and goals. How will the Master Plan effect the budget? Is the Master Plan and goals set, financially attainable? What facilities, personnel, equipment, or resources will be needed to accomplish the Master Plan? How can we ensure that the finances are available for the plan objectives? Do we need to adjust the plan (for a more realistic objective), or adjust our current expenses?
Facility/Resource Master Plan
This step of the the master-planning process can help to determine if your existing structures, resources, and facilities are compatible with your long-term goals and direction, or if changes will need to be made. Do we need new items for the Master Plan to work? Or can we utilize or re-purpose what we already have?
Conduct an audit of your current resources. Do you have the tools, equipment, and facilities currently available to achieve the Master Plan objectives? Can current and future programs and service offerings be supported? What resources are needed to provide that support?
Sustaining Master Plan
To sustain is "to provide what is needed for something or someone to exist and continue to exist". What is your plan for ensuring the longevity of your organization, its resources, and its programs? How will the organization be sustained financially? Is the funding source or business model viable? How much will updates for program resources, hardware, or software cost? How will you sustain the personnel necessary to run the programs?
This process is essential for the continued health of your organization, its personnel, and the benefits it provides. A comprehensive Master Plan will put your organization on the right track to make the largest impact in the community you serve. Lack of a Master Plan will produce an organization that is just maintaining, and will eventually lead to failure for lack or preparation of the organization, and will completely diminish the organizations impact in the world. Make the time to go through this process to evaluate where you are, where you want to be, and how you will get there.
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