Written by Sharri Margraves, HR Associate Director for Organization and Professional Development
Strategic planning is a critical aspect for leaders in all organizations, and now that MSU has recently introduced its first strategic plan in decades, you have an opportunity to help drive the results that will continue the upward trajectory of the university. Strategic planning is about change, and as with any change effort, communication and clarity of purpose are essential throughout the process.
It can be helpful to recognize the process of strategic planning as four typical phases: pre-planning, assessment, implementation, and measuring and monitoring.
The pre-planning phase is a lot like trying out a new recipe, and the first rule of cooking is to read through the entire recipe before you start. Be sure you have everything you need, and you understand what you need to do. Similarly, with strategic planning, first make sure you have the people, tools, and clarity that will allow your team to be successful before you formally begin. Consider all aspects including who will be on the planning team, general timing, communication cadence and how you will ensure DEI throughout the planning process.
Assessment: Begin Where you Are
Assessment will take the greatest amount of time.
- What is your organization’s readiness for change?
- Do you have a current and valid Mission, Vision and Values (MVV, for short)?
- Can you hear the truth from your employees and stakeholders?
- Do you need to provide training?
Assessing the organization is a part of the plan that is vital to get right—and your organizational context matters. All the tools in the world will not help if you or your team is defensive about what you might hear. From here, you will begin to develop the tactical plan.
Implementation: Building the Document
Going from assessment to writing the plan… well, let’s just say it takes time. Gleaning the most essential strategic goals or themes from your assessment effort is an iterative process, and multiple people will be involved. You will need to align your MVV and framework and produce a clear and concise “living” document.
For each strategic goal, you will have key objectives. From there, you need to have the tactics that will be needed to reach the objective. Often forgotten: leaders need to connect the dots. These tactics tell teams and individuals what needs to be done by when.
Sure, you’ve thought about the day when your plan would be done. The reality is, now is the point where the real work begins. Cascading the information throughout your organization for implementation while also communicating with your external stakeholders is critical.
Establishing the priority while allowing your team to contribute to the “how” is important because the strategic plan should be parallel to the normal work you are already doing. On an individual level, each person in the organization should know how they will contribute to the responsibilities and tasks that will roll up from tactics to objectives to goal achievement.
Measuring and Monitoring: Review and Revise
What will success look like? As you develop your tactical plan, you will have time/milestones, key performance indicators (KPI) and other measures to indicate you are achieving your goals. Establishing a regular cadence for reporting progress is important to your internal and external stakeholders. Some objectives have a bit of a lag before data can be obtained, which is why you want to have other indicators to ensure you are progressing. Including the measurement in the building phase is important. It’s easy to get excited over goals, only to realize measuring progress is not so easy.
Interested in learning more? Recommended resources are listed below, and the Organization and Professional Development department can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for specialized support.
Business Orientation: Strategic Organizational Goals | elevateU course (50 minutes)