We throw around the words "strategic planning" everyday. But, what does it mean? Is the focus on "strategic" or on "planning"? Or, is it both? What are the challenges with running a good strategic planning process? I have been reflecting on these and other similar questions much lately.
Most organizations function at least three - if not four - levels. They area all important, but some are higher marks of maturity. They include:
- Operational - We must turns the lights on the morning, unlock the doors, and answer the phone.
- Tactical - We must know "how" we are going to do certain things, such as solve a scheduling dilemma or create a better information system.
- Strategic - We need to know "what" we are really trying to accomplish and "where" we are going strategically.
- Visioning - What does success look like and how do we leverage our collective strengths to find the intersection between mission and market opportunity?
A sound strategic planning process should only focus on points three and four. Conversations that lead to points one and two nearly always move toward the political ramifications of change on a school or college environment. And, we know "change" and "education" often are not found in the same sentence. As you look at your strategic planning process, we encourage you to really consider if it is focusing on the high level issues, or getting down in the weeds.