An Introduction to Strategic Planning 1

>>Hello, my name
is Ernie Schloss. I’ve been working as
a strategic planner for almost forty years now
in a variety of settings, including government
and the private sector. This is included being
involved in community planning, hospitals, long-term care
facilities, behavioral health — virtually every setting
in healthcare. In more recent years I’ve also
been teaching public health students at the Mel and
Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the
University of Arizona. So what I hope to do is
combine my practical experience with my academic study and give
you an introduction to the topic of strategic planning. Let’s review the basic
objectives for this module. The first is to define
planning, strategy, and strategic planning itself. Then we’ll talk a little
bit about why you would want to do strategic planning and
what some of its benefits are. We will finish up the first
objective with a quick overview of simple, complicated,
and complex situations in which strategic
planning might occur. Second, we will describe
two processes that are fairly typical
of those outlined by many strategic
planning experts. The first is John
Bryson’s Ten Step Model and the second is Richard
Lynch’s prescriptive model. Finally, we’ll look at
two Arizona examples of public health strategic plans
that are posted on the internet. Let’s begin with a discussion
of planning, strategy, and put them together
in strategic planning. In all my years that I’ve been
doing strategic planning I’ve come to the conclusion,
major, often unstated goal of planning is to reduce
uncertainty about the future through people and their
organizations developing shared agreements about how they
will engage the future. Of course, none of us can really
know what will happen tomorrow, next week, let alone five
or ten years from now. But there are tools,
techniques, and ways of thinking that can lead to a
greater understanding of what the future
might look like. And as we shall see, the mere
act of coming to agreement about what the future might hold and how we will face it
together can be a powerful force in an organization
or a community. It’s also important to recognize
that planning is about change. Also, we rarely plan
to do more of the same. Either we’re trying
to improving something that we’re already doing,
stop doing something that no longer serves us
or our key stakeholders or constituents, or doing
something new and different. Because everything is
constantly changing, the context in which we exist
will force us to change. Strategic planning
involves being thoughtful and deliberate about
how we change. It allows us to be more
proactive and less reactive to the world around us. People will often
make the statement that it’s human nature
not to want to change. However, in fact, we
are changing constantly. Without going into any
details of change theory here, suffice it to say if we engage
people in planning the changes that will effect them
they will be more likely to embrace those changes. It’s important, I
believe, to distinguish between the planning process
that people use to come to agreement about how they
and their organizations or communities will face
the future, and the plans that they produce as a result. I have witnessed
and participated in planning processes that
lasted more than two years, and I’ve seen planning
processes that produce results in as little as an hour. Likewise, I have seen the actual
planning documents that resulted from planning processes
that were 100 pages or more, with hundreds more pages
of technical appendixes, and have seen plans and will
show you an example that are on one sheet of paper. I’ve even heard of plans that
were never even committed to paper, but were a
verbal agreement sealed with a hand shake. The point is, and I will stress
this throughout this module, there is no correct way
of conducting planning or even writing a plan. There are only preferred ways. And sometimes some methods may
be more effective than others. Let’s talk briefly about
planning processes, although an in depth
discussion is beyond the scope of this introductory model. I believe that there are
some underlying foundations that are essential for
effective planning. I think they build
on each other, much as I have illustrated
on this slide. As planning is decidedly
a human activity, the first building block is a
grounding in intra-personal, interpersonal, and
cultural dynamics. What do I mean? By intra-personal, I mean all
the thoughts, beliefs, feelings, emotions, motivates and
attitudes that we carry around in our individual heads. We are constantly interpreting
the world around us based on an inner story we
invent about the world. By inter-personal, I mean
the way in which we interact with others in groups and by
culture I mean all the rules for living that we
collectively share in groups. While an in depth discussion
of these is beyond the scope of this module, suffice
it to say that all of this is below the
surface, as indicated in this picture of an ice burg. The second foundation
shown in blue in the slide is what is known about facilitating group
learning and decision-making to help people reach
shared agreements about how they will face the
future, as I mentioned earlier. Finally, we need well-grounded
theories and frameworks specific to planning to help us
collectively create the future we desire for our organizations
and our communities. Collectively, these
foundations and individual and group behavior, how to
facilitate collective learning and decision-making
and how and why to conduct planning
are all needed for effective strategic
planning. In this module, we’ll spend
the rest of the time talking about planning theory
and methodologies that most people use
most of the time. So what is planning anyway? In 1973 during my second day
on the job as a novice planning in Cochise County, Arizona, an
older and much wiser planner, meaning he was two
years older than me and he had been a
planner for a year, told me that all planning boiled down to three essential
questions; where are we now, where do we want to go,
and how do we get there. These three questions have
become a touchstone for me over the years, when the
situation becomes confusing and I’m not sure
where I’m headed, I come back to these
three simple questions. Later I added how did
we do , or evaluation, to complete the cycle. Just to show you I’m not alone,
the diagram on this slide comes from the World Health
Organization, and is shows a slightly
expanded version of the diagram I
just showed you. Next, let’s define strategy. The term, as you can see in
this dictionary definition, comes from Roman
military history. This definition contrasts
strategy as having a large
operational scope with tactics, which traditionally
have been more concerned with the immediate
issues on the battle field or in our modern circumstances,
an organization, program, or a community itself. In some ways, this
is the distinction that people sometimes make between strategic planning
and program planning. Strategic planning has a
number of key attributes. It is systematic, a deliberate
process that sets the direction and scope of an organization
over the long term. And it builds agreement and commitment among
key stakeholders. Strategic planning
produces both decisions and actions while it shapes
and guides the organization in deciding what it is,
what does, why it does it, and importantly, who it
serves and how it serves them. Finally, it is useful in establishing priorities
for the organization. According to the
literature on the subject, there are clear benefits
of strategic planning. I believe the first listed on this slide are probably
the most important. That is strategic
planning, I believe, can expand the way people
think about their organization in its current environment
and how all that may change in the future. Other benefits include
improved decision-making, enhanced organizational
effectiveness, and even broader
societal effectiveness. Other studies have
found that the people who are involved
benefit as well. Finally, strategic
planning has been found to enhance the performance of
large and small organizations in profit, not-for-profit,
and governmental settings. Next I want to discuss a
question that keeps arising, as I both do strategic
planning and teach about it. That is to say, how does
strategic planning differ from other forms of planning, especially what is
called program planning. My simple answer is that
there is what I would describe as a planning continuum, with
strategic planning on one end and project and/or business
planning on the other. In terms of scope, strategic
planning tends to deal with the big picture
over a longer timeframe and with greater
concern for trends in the external environment. At the other end of the
continuum, the planning process and the plans are
much more focused, the timeframe is shorter, and the plans are more
internally focused on the needs of the project. In reality , what
I often find is that there’s a nested
hierarchy of planning with a broad strategic plan that
frames the entire organization and subsequent program or
project plans that focus on the implementation
of the strategic plan in organizational subunits or that are focused
on specific issues. For example, a health department or a hospital may have a
broad strategic plan dealing with the entire mission
of the organization, but then also have specific
more detailed plans focusing on diabetes or maternal and
child health as examples. People also often ask me about
budgeting and its relationship to strategic planning as well. What I tend to see is that
while many organizations make certainly that their
annual operating and capital budgets
are consonant with the strategic
plan, detailed budget and resource issues generally
are detailed at the program or project or business level. I’d like to offer a couple of
caveats and rules of thumb based on my vantage point of
having practiced and taught about this topic now
for most of my career. First it is extremely
important to recognize that while many people have
their favorite definitions and strategic planning
processes, there’s no right way to do this. Henry Mintzberg, a distinguished
management professor at McGill University, has
identified ten distinct schools of strategic planning, and
there are probably several more. What I have found
is that consultants and other practitioners
of strategic planning tend to push their favorite
methodology. I have been a member of
and have worked extensively with strategic planning
consulting firms have had their own methodologies,
sometimes evidence-based, sometimes merely based on the practitioner’s own
preferences and experience. Often times, I have
heard someone say oh, that’s not strategic planning,
when in fact strategic planning, as we will see, covers a
different of philosophies, methodologies, and end products. Remember in the end strategic
planning still comes back to those fundamental
questions I raised earlier, where are we now,
where do we want to go, and how do we get there. The next important point is
that there are no correct format or contents of a strategic
plan, only preferred ways. Now if there’s a format
preferred by your boss or your governing
body, then by all means that should be your preferred
way too, unless you’re in a position to suggest
something different. If the process produces a
satisfactory agreed-upon strategic plan, then
how it’s written, as long as it’s understandable
to the people who need to follow it, is less important. I have seen strategic plans
copied on a couple of pages and four -color glossy,
bound documents that look great on
a coffee table. What works for you and your
organization is what you should use. Finally, and this is a
point that few people get, including the experts that
I’ve encountered and read, some strategic planning
processes and the way to think about planning itself
are better suited to some situations than others. A common complaint I hear is that the strategic plan
just sits on the shelf. Meaning that somehow
it’s not useful. There are several
possible answers to this perceived problem. Of course it could be the
process used was poorly executed and that resulting plan didn’t
meet the organization’s need. It could also be, and I
have frequently seen this, that the process was fine, agreement on the planning
questions was reached, but the document
itself was secondary. While it may sit on the
shelf, the act of creating it and the shared organizational
learning that occurred was
what was important. Finally, and I think this
is new , what we’re coming to realize is different
approaches to strategic planning
may be more appropriate in some situations than others. While a detailed discussion of
why that is and what it means for planning is beyond
the scope of this module. I will give you a taste of
what I mean in the next section and then give you a
general common model of strategic planning that you
can use in many situations.

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7 thoughts on “An Introduction to Strategic Planning 1

  1. Strategic planning should be the corner stoneĀ for the success of your organization. Well thought and executed strategy can be a powerful force in any organization. Strategy its about to be proactive and lead the pack in embracing change. Its to say if you fail to plan you planned to fail.

  2. Hello,
    Thank you for presenting this lecture. My question is, could I create a strategic plan as part of the launching program for a new church?

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