If you’re welcoming in a new, or predominantly new, Council, getting everyone working as a team and moving in the same direction is critical. In addition to Council orientation that is typically done, strategic planning is another key undertaking to get your team working well together – and to give you (CAOs, seniors managers and staff) the clarity in direction that makes your life easier! Even if you don’t have a big change in Council, the beginning of a new term is an important time for everyone to work together to identify the strategic priorities for the next four years.
Strategic planning incorporates a number of key elements, including: team building; election platform ideas; budget realities; community vision and goals; the major opportunities and challenges facing the community; and the strategic directions and key deliverables Council (and senior staff) want to aim to accomplish over the next four years.
A strategic plan doesn’t have to be complicated! It should clearly and simply lay out the following key components:
- Where you’re going: Strategic planning should be guided by the vision and goals articulated by the community – usually captured in an integrated community sustainability plan (ICSP), or your municipal development plan (MDP). The strategic plan will help your organization stay the course toward your community’s vision and goals for the future.
- Where you are now: The strategic planning process should be informed by today’s budget realities, current performance data (where it exists), and an analysis of current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis). Having a good handle on the current situation will lead to more realistic planning for how to move forward.
- How you’re going to move forward: This is the crux of the plan and the planning process, where staff and Council (guided and grounded by the other two components) set the direction and priorities for the organization; and then prioritize the key deliverables for the next few years that are best suited for moving forward.
Done well, strategic planning not only delivers on the above items, it also creates the facilitated time and space for decision-makers in the organization to come together to build their capacity as a team and get started on the same page.
The Centre would be happy to help with your municipality’s strategic planning. To discuss how we can help, please contact Shannon Gordon (sgordon[at]whistlercentre.ca or 604-906-0310).