Whether you’re welcoming in a new council, getting ready for elections or are mid-way through a term, annual strategic planning helps your community stay the course toward your community’s vision and goals for the future. Ideally, strategic planning occurs before and leads into the budgeting process, but at the very least should inform refinements to the budgeting process already underway.
Done well, strategic planning provides facilitated time and space for decision-makers in the organization to come together to identify opportunities and challenges, set the direction and priorities for the organization, and then prioritize the key deliverables for the next few years that will be best suited for moving forward.
Strategic planning should not occur in a vacuum and should not be blown by the winds of change. It should be guided by the compass provided by the vision and goals articulated by the community – usually captured in one of these types of plans: an integrated community sustainability plan (ICSP), the official community plan (OCP), Municipal Development Plan (MDP), etc.
It should also be informed by data on your current progress and performance at moving toward your vision and goals. Of course, this first requires that you know what data you need to objectively and accurately track your performance, and then you have to collect, analyze and compile the information.
A strategic planning process should be designed and delivered to ensure meaningful involvement from all participants and to meet objectives and generate concrete outcomes. Key steps in a strategic planning process include:
- Creating structure for the strategic plan (if not already contained in existing strategic plans) such that it incorporates the community vision and goals, but is also relevant and complete for the organization.
- Reviewing the community vision, goals/objectives, etc.
- Understanding the current situation, including: an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis); and progress and performance related to the vision, goals, etc.
- Identifying and prioritizing directions, as well as key deliverables for 1-3 years.
- Creating/refining, reviewing and finalizing the plan.
- Debriefing the planning process and beginning to plan the process and improvements for next year!
The Centre would be happy to help with your municipality with designing and facilitating an effective strategic planning process. Contact Shannon Gordon or at 604.906.0310 if you have any questions or would like to learn more.