Successful Strategic Planning

Successful Strategic Planning
American Psychological Association logo on a blue background


Prior to working with McKinley, the American Psychological Association (APA) had never experienced a successful strategic planning process. With nearly 2,000 APA members participating at some level in the organization’s governance activities, a 110-year history and a strong culture of inclusion, McKinley was tasked with the challenge of channeling the enthusiasm of APA’s volunteer leaders to develop a strategic plan that not only made sense for the organization but would also be approved by its leadership.

Beginning in January of 2008, McKinley led a two-year process to conduct extensive primary and secondary research and develop an enterprise-wide strategic plan for APA. Our research approach involved in-person meetings, telephone interviews, focus groups and an electronic survey with a wide range of APA constituents. Through disciplined research and collaboration efforts, including a number of in-person working sessions, McKinley provided the objective data and confidence necessary to unify the APA’s Council of 160 leaders and representatives from dozens of Boards and Committees. During the engagement period, APA was able to successfully move its first strategic plan through its various constituencies, as virtually all volunteer groups within the organization had an opportunity to contribute to the planning process. At the end of the process, the plan won nearly unanimous approval on the floor of APA’s Council, leaving APA well positioned to use the plan to align its various activities to the organization’s central strategy.


The result of the two-year effort is a one-page workable strategic plan that was embraced by both staff and leaders in January 2010. The plan has brought focus to APA and its ability to concentrate on key issues, including how the organization prioritizes advocacy and outreach efforts to unify the field in responding to changes in healthcare reform. McKinley continues to act as an advisor on an ad hoc basis for APA.

“We had confidence in the team and process from day one. And we were correct in that we ended with a workable, concise and well-supported plan. With our numerous and diverse stakeholders, that is quite an accomplishment.”
Michael Honaker, Ph.D.
Deputy Executive Director