Strategic Planning

Here’s a process I’ve suggested the Selectboard adopt to develop long term strategies for the town:

Strategic Planning Process

Here are the components of the strategic design/planning process for teams I described in our discussion Wednesday:




1. Articulate Goals; Describe the End-In-View; Specify Deliverables


Explains the “What, Why & When” of your task in 5-7 bullet items, with dates if appropriate. Example: Summit Mt Everest to get pictures at the “top of the world” between May 15 and May 29, 2013



2. Surface Challenges; Lay out the Boundary Conditions & Hurdles


Creates shared awareness of all constraints seen by all stakeholders. Some constraints can’t be relaxed, for example, the air is too thin at the top of Everest to sustain life. Some hurdles need definition, for example each climber will need 500 liters of supplemental oxygen, 100 of which must be in position at the final base camp before summit day.




3. Key Success Factors — the 4 to 7 things that have to be right to overcome hurdles and meet the goal



Identifies what you consider the 6-8 most important drivers of total success. Usually best expressed as an “ility” word: Survivability (everyone comes home alive), Climbability (the route to the top must be feasible), Affordability (the total cost is <$200,000 per climber) etc.



4. Metrics – how do we measure our progress toward fulfilling the success factors?


Presents your measurement plan with “as is” and “to be” metrics & goals. This piece comes into play as the effort moves forward. There are some really interesting pieces to this that I will show after we finish step 3



5. Innovation Scope or Tactics


A list of ideas for furthering the effort, often just tactics such as “rely heavily on Sherpas” but sometimes throw it on the wall and see if it sticks ideas like “charge tourist climbers $250,000 each so the guides can climb free”




6. Action Plan / Specific steps


The details that fall out of the top-down strategic planning accomplished in steps 1 through 5.


The way this works is that at the first meeting, the group of stakeholders works through steps 1 – 3 and learns about step 4. At the second meeting, the results of the first meeting are affirmed / edited and then brainstorming over tactics occurs, followed by drafting of action plans.

As the effort moves ahead, the team meets periodically and uses the metrics from step 4 to evaluate progress.

The entire strategic design approach helps to get disparate groups on the same page in terms of understanding the different perspectives of different stakeholder groups, and then provides an ongoing mechanism for surfacing new information. The general assumption is that most projects or efforts fail not because people want to sabotage them, but because there is not enough clarity about goals, barriers, and the strategies being applied to move forward; and if there is clarity on those counts, there is insufficient ongoing followup among stakeholder groups as the effort moves ahead.

In our immediate situation we need to agree on a ‘directive’ that will yield to this process, because it is intended for solving concrete problems. Here are some examples:

Implement a Capital Budgeting Process

Set Long Term Policy for Town Staffing

Develop scenarios for Hartford in 2030, and select one as the Town Strategic Vision

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