A strategic plan is like the blueprint for an institution and, like any significant project, requires multiple phases.
During the first phase of building a strategic plan, the board’s role is to empower the president to engage stakeholders in a participatory process that takes into account future trends and environmental considerations that could have an impact on the growth and success of the institution. Engaging the board early in the planning process provides an opportunity for the board to help set parameters and frame the plan in regard to the institution’s mission.
To gain insight from all stakeholders, the builders of the strategic plan should survey constituents and coalesce multiple ideas into shared values or vision statements that can be adopted by all involved. Faculty and students are often thought of first when developing stakeholder groups. But alumni, donors, or neighboring institutions are also important contributors to the process.
Once in place, the board should monitor the strategic plan, ensuring performance measures are understood and the administration is utilizing the plan for decision-making. The board is further challenged to provide the right kind of strategic thinking by asking the right questions or introducing emerging trends or new strategic information that may affect outcomes. Remember, boards are most effective when they use the strategic plan to govern, not administer its implementation.
Finally, strategic plans are never fully completed. Once a strategic plan is in place, in only a short time, it will be time to update the plan. Stay mindful of the vision, mission, and values of the original plan and ask if they are still relevant. Reassess the environment before moving forward with the development of new goals and re-engage stakeholders.