Values-Based Strategic Planning
Off the Shelf and Into Action: Eight Steps in a Values-Based
Strategic Planning Process
Step 1: Information Gathering and Analysis
Key elements and tools include: core values identification; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis; focus group research among all constituencies; written surveys (a good way to involve students in the process); one-on-one interviews; and external environment scans (external forces – political; economic; social; technological; market size and behavior; constituent behavior and needs; potential new market entrants; direct competitors’ performance, strategies, capabilities, and intentions over which you have no control).
Step 2: Identification of Critical Issues (Strategic Drivers)
Issues that must be resolved that are out of alignment with core values and therefore become focal points of this plan. Also can be areas of industry- required core competency that the school is seriously lacking in, or areas of debilitating weakness that, if left unaddressed, would negatively impact on the school’s ability to perform its core mission. The third major category of critical issues falls in the domain of external environment, i.e. any condition, current or anticipated that exists outside the institution and threatens its ability to perform its core mission.
Step 3: Development of a Statement of Core Values
A set of guiding principles in the form of statements that will result in a code of behavior among community members. Together with vision and mission, statements of core values serve as a check and balance system against which the value of new projects is gauged. Values clarify and resolve issues, help determine direction, and build community. One cannot be forced to “buy into” the values of an organization. The organization can only seek to identify, recruit and retain those individuals who are pre-disposed to sharing and living its values.
Step 4: Development of a Strategic Vision Statement That Sets Future Direction based on Core Values
Purpose of this step: to develop a strategic vision statement. The vision statement describes what you want the school to look like in ideal terms in the future – the results you will achieve and characteristics you will need to possess in order to achieve those results. The strategic vision statement provides direction and inspiration for organizational goal setting. Work in core values is critical to a successful vision statement.
Through the vision statement, the school attempts to respond to the challenges expressed in the form of the critical issues.
Step 5: Mission Statement Review/Revision
Purpose of this step: To review the organizational mission statement for congruency with a new vision. The mission statement is a statement of purpose, a broad description of why you do what you do.
If necessary, revise the language of the existing mission statement. But do so with caution. A well-written mission statement rarely needs changing.
Questions for a Critical Review of an Existing Mission Statement
- Is our mission statement clear and on target in today’s operating environment?
- Do you have any specific questions or concerns with respect to the mission statement?
- Does the mission statement duplicate the mission of any other school/organization? If so, what should we do about it?
- Considering the answers to all these questions, how, if at all, should the mission statement be changed?
Step 6: Development of Strategic Goals
Purpose of this step: To develop strategic goal statements consistent with vision statement and reflective of core values. These will be broad statements of what you hope to achieve in the next three to five years. Goal statements focus on outcomes and are qualitative in nature. Cross-check goals using ‘necessary and sufficient’ rule. That is, is each goal necessary and are all sufficient to realize the vision?
Step 7: Development of Strategies and Initiatives
Purpose of this step: To identify major directional approaches that will advance each goal. If a goal identifies what is to be achieved, a strategy answers the question ‘How?’ Applying the necessary and sufficient rule keeps builds strategies out to a short list of typically 3-5 for each goal. Initiatives are the programs, activities or changes indicated by strategies.
Step 8: Preparation of Operational Planning Based on the Strategic Plan
Purpose of this step: To develop work plans based on annual priorities with corresponding outcome-based objectives, timelines and assignments. This step gets the plan off the shelf and into action.