Strategic Management for Government Leaders: Planning for the Future

By Van Slyke, David | Nation's Cities Weekly, May 12, 2008 | Go to article overview

Strategic Management for Government Leaders: Planning for the Future


Van Slyke, David, Nation's Cities Weekly


This is the first in a series of articles on the topics and issues that will be presented at the "Thinking and Acting Strategically in Local Government" Leadership Training institute seminar scheduled for June 29-July 1 in Rapid City, S.D.

Municipal leaders are experiencing significant challenges to the communities they lead. Those who are successful, manage change through systematic strategic thinking, planning and measurement.

Understanding the different frameworks and tools for conducting effective stakeholder outreach, making sense of changes in their operating environments, and engaging in strategic planning can enhance a local government leader's ability to position the municipality in achieving desired goals and outcomes. Using strategic planning as a foundation, successful governmental leaders link strategy to performance systems. Local governments are increasingly competing with and against one another in their efforts to attract economic development, innovative industries and more affluent residents while balancing goals of growth against those associated with a high quality of life.

These goals are not unique to a few communities. Rather they are often considered in line with other challenges that local governments across the country face. Increasingly these challenges include responsibility for federal and state mandates that are passed on, aging infrastructure, demands for low crime, high performing schools, high-density low-impact communities, and preservation of their community's natural environment while managing the tensions associated with growth, sprawl, and rising costs and expectations about government services.

To manage these challenges and achieve the desired goals of those in and affected by the community, local government leaders need to engage in systematic strategic thinking and planning. However, such thinking and planning is not without costs and often occurs as a result of having to react to a crisis or from a failure to plan. …

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