WAPL - Where are we going? Strategic Planning for Results

Posted by Lisa Strand on Thursday, May 01, 2008 in WLA Blog Archive
Cheryl Becker of the South Central Library System presented information on the PLA strategic planning process called Strategic Planning for Results.

Where is your library going? A strategic plan is a road map for the library. Planning is to prepare to do, and there is not enough money to do everything. The planning process helps to set priorities so that wise choices can be made. It is important to plan, but it should be done quickly so that you can get on with the doing.

Planning is about change. Keep the planning process short so you can do. The process as envisioned by PLA, needs to be community based. Three assumptions:
  • Excellence must be defined locally.
  • Excellence is possible for all libraries of all sizes
  • Excellence is a moving target.
There are four key points:
  1. Community Based Planning
  2. Library Service Priorities
  3. Measures for Success
  4. Managing Change
There are extensive handouts.

It is a good idea to have an outside facilitator who can be neutral, has specialized training and skills and will come with a cost. You will want a committee with community members. You will probably want to be sure that there are the movers and shakers in the community represented. It should broadly represent the demographics of the community. Committee meets only 2 times (and have the dates set when asking).

The first meeting is longer, and has the group define the Community Vision, the condidtions, needs, which needs the library can address, and select preliminary service responses.

The staff and board input looks at the needs as developed by the community group. There are specific roles for the staff and board.

At Committee Meeting 2, you review service responses, review the input, select final service responses, prioritize service responses, and finally (and most importantly) thank them. It is important to have food at both events. The first meeting could be a whole day, and the second should be about a half day.

The new PLA process spends more time discussing managing change. There is a method for "taking the temperature" of the organization. It is important to have the distinction between values and service responses. The library mission needs to be written and often takes phrases from the service responses. Communication is critical, and when change is happening it is especially important to communicate or even "over communicate."

Cheryl went through the rest of her handouts. Some key final thoughts:

  • the mission should be short enough that staff and board can say it
  • there should be few enough service responses that staff and board can say them all
  • the document should be a page (maybe a tri-fold)
The next really important step is the actual doing. This is where you may need to make the hard decisions about perhaps changing what you are doing.

Implementing for Results is forthcoming. Which are all part of the Results series published by ALA.

At the end you should have a plan that is short, is relevant, and shows that you are spending your tax dollars wisely. The Library will be at the heart of the community.
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