Strategic Planning | Planning to Plan

The following are notes from a local consultant whose presentation I appreciated in helping us think through strategic planning.

StrategicPlan_BannerJob # 1

Why Strategic Planning?

  • Strategic planning processes provide an opportunity to bring an organization together to develop a shared vision for the future and a road map for getting there.
  • A strategic plan provides guidance to the Board and the Administration, especially when setting annual or multi-year goals.
  • A strategic plan provides the external community with important information about the future of the organization.

Much of these points are contingent upon who is included in this process and the already existing culture of the institution. I would add that a strategic plan also addresses key questions the organization is facing and responds to those question by providing objectives or even limits.

Why Now?

  • There is at least one major strategic choice facing the organization. How this issue is resolved will influence the future of the organization in many ways.
  • It is important to address the major strategic issues first. Related issues such as facilities and funding will be more effective if they are supporting board approved, strategic goals.
  • The leader of the institution will benefit from both the time and structure of a planning process to learn about the institution before opining on strategic issues or leading potential change. Planning provides new leadership with a chance to engage with constituencies around the school’s future.
  • People within the organization are asking for it.

The plan gives you a context to think about how plans change with new information.


  1. What is a strategic plan?
  2. Who are the authors of a strategic plan?
  3. Who shapes and influences the strategic plan?
  4. How long will it take?
  5. Whose job is it to execute the strategic plan?
  6. What are the benefits of the strategic planning process?


  • A strategic plan is a tool that organizations use to examine the present and to state what they want to achieve in the future. It is a road map that leads an organization from where it is now to where it would like to be in five / ten years.
  • The executive leadership are authors of a strategic plan.
  • All key constituencies of an organization shape the plan.
  • The executive leadership is ultimately responsible for implementing the strategic plan, with support from others in the organization.
  • Among the many benefits of the strategic planning process are: Inspiration; Information; Commitment to the mission; clear direction; adaptability; and shared vision.

Criteria for a successful process

  • Strong leadership/collective buy-in for process
  • Both practical and aspirational
  • Inclusive, but not unwieldy
  • Efficiently managed
  • Anticipates periodic “stock-taking”
  • Completed in a timely¬† manner
  • Has an accompanying financial plan
  • Provides clear guidance for annual work for 3-5 years.

Elements of a strategic process

  • Vision, mission, core values
  • Issue identification (SWOT, and other)
  • Situational analysis (internal/external data)
  • Constituent input
  • Issue analysis (task forces, board committees)
  • Full board involvement (board meetings, retreats)
  • Associated financial planning
  • Iterating on goals, strategies, implementation
  • Documentation/communication

Strategic Planning Driver

  • “Strategic Planning Committee”
  • “Strategic Planning Steering Committee”
  • “Strategic Planning Executive Committee”


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