To evaluate an article from the perspective of what you and I find confusing or surprising about the content, we usually have to ask ourselves certain questions:
1)Does the author state his/her credentials?
Usually, we look for the author's credentials in order to decide whether we can trust in the contents of the article. For example, how long has the author worked in the industry (in this case, the non-profit industry)? Which non-profit companies have the author worked with? In the article, although Temkin tells us that she has worked to facilitate the crafting of strategic plans for the last ten years, we still don't have enough information about her background to judge her expertise in the area.
Further research has yielded more information about Terrie Temkin's background. Temkin is actually a celebrated and talented, global entrepreneur, university lecturer, and businesswoman. Her clients include the National Epilepsy Foundation, the National Immune Deficiency Foundation, the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, the National Wildlife Refuge Association, and the Center for Innovative Programming Azerbaijan NGO Project. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Florida Atlantic University, where she teaches in the graduate program for non-profit management.
You can read more here: Terrie Temkin Ph.D.
We may find it surprising that Temkin has chosen to downplay her vast experience and incredible credentials in this article.
2) What are the main arguments? Are the main arguments cogently stated?
As I see it, Temkin argues against strategic planning, but supports the creation of strategic thinking boards without a clear differentiation between the two. Her twelve point communication rubric for strategic thinking boards present many interesting and valid concerns, but why cannot traditional planning committees adequately address these issues also? Can traditional planning boards incorporate more of Temkin's suggestions 'to constantly reason, challenge and express ideas from a strategic perspective' without unnecessary organizational upheaval? Answers to some of these questions may clear up any confusion on the part of the reader in regards to Temkin's excellent thesis.
3)Are the main arguments supported by verifiable facts or stated opinions? Is the writing style easy to follow and the article organized logically? Are important terms defined or explained?
In this article, Temkin argues that 'Strategic plans can cost $5,000 to over $100,000, take anywhere from four to 18 months, and involve the staff, board and other stakeholders.' However, she does not offer us any real-world examples or provide links to statistics (from trusted sources) which will help us verify this information. We may it confusing and frustrating that a seemingly factual statement has been made without subsequent documentation.
In her arguments, Temkin states that many non-profits have been forced to lay off staff due to the economic downturn. The remaining staff may be too over-taxed with additional responsibilities to handle the demands of traditional strategic planning. However, she also continues by stating that 'some of these same organizations further complicate the situation by protecting the board members' busy calendars by giving them a pass when it comes to doing any work outside of regularly scheduled board meetings.'
This seems confusing, as Temkin decries the fate of over-burdened employees while criticizing these same (over-taxed) employees' seeming lack of motivation towards facilitating better strategic planning.
Another confusing statement is Temkin's assertion that 'Strategic plans once covered a period of 10-20 years. Then it was five-seven.' Here, she does not define what 'five-seven' means. This may be confusing and frustrating to those of us who are closely following Temkin's work.
Please refer to more way to evaluate articles below. I hope some of what I have written has been helpful!