From Vision to Implementation and Evaluation: The Changing State of Strategic Planning

By Gordon, Gerald | Public Management, September 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

From Vision to Implementation and Evaluation: The Changing State of Strategic Planning


Gordon, Gerald, Public Management


More than a decade ago, local government managers were just beginning to fully apply the concept of strategic planning to their operations. In 1993, ICMA published a text entitled Strategic Planning for Local Governments. That volume examined state-of-the-art strategic planning, outlined how the process was being applied in communities throughout the United States, and highlighted some of the lessons learned.

This summer, ICMA published the sequel, which looks back over the past 12 years to see if the lessons of the earlier research still held true as well as to identify the new lessons. In short, what is the current state of the art?

The short answers are these: the lessons of 1993 are still valid for communities to keep in mind as they embark on strategic planning exercises; there are indeed new lessons to be learned; and the state of the art has evolved in the communities cited with a business-like approach.

Most of the earlier lessons dealt with process and format. "Do's and don'ts" became clear as plans were developed and implemented. The additional lessons of 2005 extend the reach of strategic planning processes and documents. They are now more inclusive of other local planning efforts and have a greater impact upon them. Further, the plans now have a greater reach into the day-to-day activities of the local government's employees, and they increasingly have an impact on performance and resource allocation decisions.

EARLY LESSONS

In the early 1990s, local governments were just beginning to emulate the strategic planning processes of their private sector counterparts. Focusing on immediate and short-term problems superseded the orientation to a longer-term vision. Local governments beginning to apply these concepts did so more as extensions of comprehensive and other planning processes.

Ten years ago there was a need to promote the planning process locally. That remains a community activity today, but the stated emphasis now is less likely to be on explaining what will happen and more on encouraging citizens, press, and other stakeholders' involvement in the process. Concerns about planning committees' inclusiveness have evolved into the scheduling of town hall sessions, call-in radio shows, and e-mail sites to encourage active citizen input.

Local governments of the mid-90s were properly focused on ensuring the most thorough possible environmental scan or situation analysis. While this clearly remains a primary component of both the process and the final document, growing attention is being paid to the nexus between the plan and the day-to-day operations of local government, and even to group and individual performance standards and reviews.

STRATEGIC PLANNING AND OTHER LOCAL GOVERNMENT PROCESSES

Local governments are forever in a planning mode. Budget reviews and authorizations are forms of planning, as are comprehensive plans, and other agency plans. These plans run the risk of being independently developed and without the benefit of a comprehensive overall strategy. A related concern is that the separate plans have often been related to each other but not necessarily with the overall plan for the community.

This was recognized and addressed in the three-year plan (2003 to 2005) of Grand Rapids, Michigan:

Several documents represent the strategic direction of the city, including the city's Mission Statement, Fiscal Plan, Performance Measurement Plan, Three-Year Strategic Plan, and various departmental, technical, and community strategic plans. Together, these documents form the strategic blueprint for the city to provide equitable access to urban life for all citizens.

The 2005 research indicates an awareness of these potential problems and addresses the incorporation of all plans into a common process with overlapping documents. A strategic plan that envisions a given future for a community, for example, becomes the guiding light for the strategies and tactics necessary to achieve that plan.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

From Vision to Implementation and Evaluation: The Changing State of Strategic Planning
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?