> Strategic Planning
What is Strategic Planning?
Strategic planning will help you create a bold vision for the future, strengthen new partnerships, forge creative and innovative linkages between stakeholders, and ultimately better address the needs of older adults in your community. A community-wide strategic planning process will benefit from the wisdom of a diverse array of participants and ensure greater likelihood of success.
When a community conducts strategic planning they determine what they want to achieve and how they will achieve it. The key parts of this process include forming a planning group, gathering information, identifying priorities, determining strategies, and defining plans to achieve desired change.
A Strategic Planning Model
This section of the Resource Center is structured around a strategic planning model that may be helpful to community partnerships new to the process. Key ideas are presented, accompanied by tasks and tools designed to assist communities in implementing these key ideas. While this section of the Web site progresses sequentially through the planning model, readers with greater familiarity may want to go directly to their topic of interest.
The model suggests a five-step process:
- Getting Started: determining a governing structure for the planning effort
- Shared Vision: forming a shared vision that will guide planning
- Information Gathering: collecting data and assessing resources
- Priorities & Planning: determining priorities and initiating planning
- Measuring Impact: evaluating the planning effort
Each of the five steps contains multiple components. Each component is introduced by a brief discussion of inherent issues and processes, and includes tips and cautions that offer practical suggestions to help communities along the way. Information and assistance in completing these components can be found in the All Resources page for Strategic Planning.
Strategic planning is not as linear as the five steps suggest. For instance, you don’t need to start at Step 1 if you have already addressed governance issues; however, you may want to revisit governing structure and vision periodically as you progress through the planning process.
Strategic planning is an ongoing process, and the formation and implementation of one plan is the beginning of another. As an evolutionary experience, your pattern of successes and failures in improving systems in your communities will be the basis for new focus, realigned partnerships, and building momentum toward new initiatives. Don't be stymied by thinking you need to figure everything out before you can act.
Key Elements of the Model
This model will help you create a comprehensive strategic plan that is organized around three interrelated elements: focus, alignment, and momentum.
To view a graphic representation of the model, click on the picture below. Note the arrows, designating a feedback loop between steps, illustrate that the planning process is dynamic and interactive.
Focus: Getting the players, process and vision clearly articulated is just as important as getting the plan right. A focused, cohesive, well-organized group will be crucial to your success. Reach out to new agencies and individuals to expand the partnership, and then work to communicate and decide things together. Create a vision of the future that is clearly articulated, easily understood, energizing, and realistic.
Alignment: Aligning all of the varied information and perceptions of your community’s existing resources will facilitate building a cohesive profile of your community’s needs, strengths, weaknesses and challenges. Guidelines for setting priorities and crafting the details of a strategic plan are essential for selecting and mapping your path to change and improvements.
Momentum: Once you have focused the players and aligned the information, the continuing commitment of your partnership is essential. The last element of the model presents the concepts and approaches communities can use to establish measurable results and ensure that the momentum of the work continues to bring about changes in your community. Initial plans may change and the recognition of this by partners improves the likelihood for success. Communicating successes to the partnership and the community will reinforce the effort and create opportunities for expanding the partnership’s work.
Before you can create a community-driven strategic plan, you will need to lay the groundwork for how the plan will be developed. This includes agreeing on ground rules, creating a mission statement, getting community buy-in, determining a governance structure, defining roles and responsibilities, and developing internal communications.
Visioning is critical in both the operation of a successful community partnership and in the development of a community-wide strategic plan. Vision statements embody a group’s common thinking about the desired outcome; they reflect what the community wants to become. Your vision tells you what the successful implementation of your strategic plan will look like.
A successful strategic plan is based on sound information about: the community’s long term care and supportive services system; the needs and preferences of older adults; the capacity, resources and commitment of the community and partnership; and options for system change. This section provides communities with tools to help gather data.
Priorities & Planning
After strategic information has been gathered about the community’s long term care and supportive services system—including the needs and preferences of older adults—it is time to analyze the information, set priorities, develop strategies and create the plan.
The strategic planning model featured here emphasizes three keys to an effective community partnership: focus, alignment and momentum. Focus refers to creating a clear vision and value system, and setting specific objectives.
Alignment means ensuring that partnership initiatives match community needs. Momentum is implementing—and sustaining—partnership efforts over time, with the goal of having a long term, positive impact.