Strategic Planning is a process to ensure that the actions of an organization are aligned with priority challenges and opportunities so that the organization can achieve its vision and fulfill its mission. When done correctly, strategic planning provides clear direction to an organization so that decisions can be made quickly and effectively in the face of changing circumstances. Strategic plans can help organization make effective allocation and use of their limited resources toward essential and high priority issues. Despite its popularity, strategic planning is also faced with a number of challenges to its effectiveness. Chief among these are failure to establish an action plan, failure to adequately account for essential day-to-day activities, and failure to properly monitor and update the plan over time. The St Croix County UW CNRED Educator explicitly works to educate organizations and people on these common failures to design a planning process that works that avoids them to help ensure a useful strategic plan.
Core steps for conducting strategic planning include a review and assessment of previous plans and current planning needs; creating opportunities for meaningful dialogue among participants; explicitly ensuring connection to an action plan; and managing expectations of stakeholders.
UW Extension works with local governments or organizations on a full range of services regarding strategic planning. These services are based on extensive experience and up-to-date research and practices. Strategic Planning services include:
- Education on the purpose and components of a strategic planning process and plan
- Design and facilitation of planning events
- Documenting outcomes of planning events
- Drafting strategic plan
- Provision of tools and materials for conducting a strategic planning event
Initial assessment and component checklist for Strategic Plan: This checklist allows you to review each separate element of a strategic plan, agree on its need, and define the expected outcome.
Strategic Planning flow diagram: This presentation graphically represents the various parts of a strategic plan. It can be used to educate participants about the steps they will undertake and remind them of where they are in the process.
Pre-Planning Vision and Mission Exercises and Issues Identification: The survey can be used to gather input on vision and mission statements as well as identication of strategic issues. Input is not considered final, but allows a starting point for dialogue during the live planning event.
Pre-Planning Session SWOT Survey: This survey can be administered to participants ahead of time to get their initial feedback on identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Collecting this information ahead of the live session can save time allowing for additional dialogue. It can also allow the facilitator time to analyze the information to develop effective planning exercises.
University of Wisconsin – Madison Extension
Community Development Outreach Specialist