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. To do this, there are a couple of key sessions that should be delivered for Council over the coming months to lay the groundwork for smoother sailing over the next four years.
- In-depth Council orientation, including the information they need to know about such as: relevant legislation; the major opportunities and challenges facing the community; governance (e.g., Council vs. staff roles and responsibilities); and the workings and realities of the municipal budget.
- Strategic planning, incorporating these important elements: team building; election platform ideas; budget realities (again!); community vision and goals; the major opportunities and challenges facing the community (again!); 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 official community plan (OCP). 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 will be best suited for moving forward.
Done well, strategic planning provides 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.