The term “strategic planning” has
been so over-used and misused that its simple, common sense meaning has been
lost. Concurrently, strategic plans and strategic planning are primarily seen
as being most appropriate for large businesses and complex organizations. This
is, indeed, unfortunate since the six steps listed above are there for everyone
who wants to succeed. This includes individuals and groups, small and large
businesses, and every organization no matter how complex or simple. The fact is
this. The success potential of any human endeavor increases in direct
proportion to the quality of the strategic plan associated with it.
For example, consider any child protection
agency, large or small. Is a vision of safe children, stable families, and a
supportive community necessary for agency success? It assuredly is, even if the
best that can be done today is to keep some children safe, help some families
become more stable, and encourage parts of the community to be more supportive
of its children and families. Without a vision of a better world for children,
there is little point to the work of the agency.
The agency cannot do it all, cannot
single-handedly realize the vision. Even so, it can contribute to the outcome.
If it tries to do everything, it will fail. Only if the agency limits its role
and clearly defines its mission can it succeed.
What will it take? The requirements for
success must certainly be identified. The agency cannot do everything at once.
Its efforts and use of resources must be prioritized. What must be done before
what? What has to be done today and what can wait until tomorrow? What is the
agencys strategy for success?
With the agreed-to strategy in hand, doing
the work is obviously necessary but is not enough. There has to be a way of
tracking progress. Are the planned outcomes being realized? Is the agency
moving toward or away from success?
Can your agency get along without strategic
planning and a strategic plan? Quite simply, “Yes.” Child protection
agencies are very busy and do good work, with or without a strategic plan.
However, for agencies that are not committed to strategic planning, three of
the six steps listed above are usually missing. They competently identify the
requirements as defined by law and administrative rule, prioritize the effort,
and do the work. Missing are a shared vision of the best outcomes for the communitys
children and families, a well-defined mission directing the agencys role in
achieving those outcomes, and valid strategies to track the progress toward
realizing the vision. The focus is on process, not on outcomes for children and
There are many effective ways to incorporate
the six strategic planning steps into your agencys operations. The key to
success is being sure that all six steps receive concentrated attention and
become integral elements in your ongoing efforts. The approach presented here
provides a well-tested framework for successfully and continuously moving your
agency, large or small, toward excellence. PCSAO has used this approach to
facilitate the development of strategic plans in more than half of
goal of transforming how local agencies do business. This approach was first
developed by William Passmore and subsequently refined by Mark Hartford and the
staff of the Institute for Human Services (IHS), headquartered in