Strategic Planning For Community Association Board Members

October 5, 2010 by David C. Swedelson

"Most successful businesses have embraced the concept of strategic planning, and the results attained drive the direction, resources, and decisions made in the daily course of doing business. It guides the leadership and unites the employees and partners through common goals and objectives."

This is the introduction to an article on strategic planning by hoalawblog friend Debra Warren, PCAM, CCAM, CMCA, of Cinnabar Consulting. As a Community Association Manager, Management Firm CEO and Consultant, Debra should know a thing or two about this subject. She has had the opportunity to work with hundreds of communities and literally thousands of Board Members. She has had a seat at the table with some of the most successful communities and, conversely, at some of the most challenged communities.

Debra raises a good question: Since the benefits of developing a strategic plan are generally positive, why don’t community associations enthusiastically proceed along the same path? Debra’s article suggests that there are several answers to this question. One answer is simply the perception that creating a plan is complicated and requires a lot of time and money. Another answer is that many community association volunteers believe that the 30-Year Reserve Study is their plan. While this financial tool is an important part of a comprehensive plan, it does not include many factors that contribute to the overall health of the community. Some of these factors are changing demographics, local economic conditions, and aging landscaping and design elements. A complete plan will also consider the needs and wants of the individual community members.

Debra’s article suggests that one of the determining characteristics of a successful community is that it has an effective and productive Board of Directors. “Successful communities are not defined by the status of their neighborhoods or by how much money they have in the bank. They are defined by their ability to work through problems, tackle the unexpected and plan for the future. Strategic Planning for Board Members provides you with a simplified planning process that can be effective for any size community association.

This summary of Debra Warren’s article was prepared and posted here by David Swedelson and Sandra Gottlieb, senior partners at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys. Send comments or questions to David Swedelson at dcs@sghoalaw.com and to Sandra Gottlieb at slg@sghoalaw.com.