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Strategic Planning

A set of organizational priorities and defined goals that act to guide the organization, a strategic plan, are less meaningful if their achievement and impact are not measured.  Likewise, performance measurement is less focused without an organizational plan of action.  The process of strategic planning is important as it systematically addresses an organizations purpose, internal and external environment, value to stakeholders, and current and future plan for action.  All budgeting, capital planning, performance measurement and reporting, and evaluation should start with the direction set during the strategic planning process.  

Strategic plans, often set for three, five, or ten years, set the direction for the organization and typically include its mission statement, vision statement, defined long-term goals, priorities, and major strategies for achieving desired results given the external and internal conditions facing the organization.  Components of the plan are developed at a high level in the organization and are usually the result of input from citizens, staff, and most importantly elected officials.  It is important to gather input from important stakeholders as the organizations mission, vision, and goals should be reflective of the needs and expectations of stakeholders.

Regardless of the process used to develop a strategic plan, it will only be effective if 1) it is kept current and updated as needed to reflect changing conditions in the community, and 2) used as a guide to influence other decisions such as budgeting and capital planning.

Strategic Planning Overview

Strategic Plan Image
* Diagram adopted from: Bryson, J.M and Alston, F. Creating and Implementing Your Strategic Plan, (2nd ed.) San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2005.

Example: City of Long Beach, CA

The City of Long Beach developed its strategic plan, The Long Beach Strategic Plan, 2010, with the assistance of five citizen task forces.  It includes overall goals and provides a desired direction the city wishes to go in the future for major areas the city wishes to address including: neighborhoods, education and youth, safety, business growth and work force development, and the environment.  

Example: State of Iowa Department of Natural Resources

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources Strategic Management Plan outlines customer needs and helps the department target resources more effectively by aligning its mission, core functions, goals and strategies to best achieve results.  Clear links are established between goals, strategies, and results over a three to five year period.