Strategic planning is not a strategic plan. Strategic planning is developing and institutionalizing a process that connects the ’Dots’ linking a long-term vision and mission of the county with goals for five years and performance expectations to a one-year ’action item’ list for the County Board, management and the County.
A simple way of conceptualizing this model is to think about taking your county on a trip to the future. The one question though for this trip, is who will lead the journey? Will county leaders react to the situation/moment or lead with intention. Strategic planning is a tool for leading to the future. You begin with determining the destination, then selecting the best vehicle for the trip, then making a map to the designation, then fueling the vehicle and selecting the route. Let’s begin the journey by defining the ’Dots.’
Importance of Strategic Planning
The importance in institutionalizing a strategic planning process for counties is below:
- Clear direction and performance standards for managers and employees- that they know where we are going and what is expected of them.
- Financial institutions and bond rating agencies having confidence in the county leadership and their decision-making- bond rating, willingness to loan money.
- Economic expansion and businesses having confidence in the county’s future and their reliability as an economic partner- a willingness to invest in the county.
- Community organizations having confidence in the county’s direction- opportunities to partner with the County and contribute to the community.
- Citizens having confidence in their county leaders and the government’s ability to deliver on their promises, respond to changing needs, and add value in their daily lives.
Keys to Successful Planning
The Board of Commissioners can take Camden to the future by demonstrating the following:
- DISCIPLINE to follow and use the strategic planning process in light of pressure to go a different direction;
- ADVOCACY to be a cheerleader for the vision and goals, project optimism about the future, get residents excited about the county’s future;
- RESPONSIBLE CHOICES to make timely decisions based upon the vision, goals, plan and the best available data; and,
- ACCOUNTABILITY to take responsibility for actions and results.
County leaders who connect the ’Dots’ create a better future and are guided by their vision and goals, while others will be guided by political pressure and the moment.