Refocus: Strategic Planning

by David Zimmerman, Tazewell County Board

As a leader or manager of your organization, how do you know that you are making decisions that line up with your priorities and goals? Do you know what your priorities and goals are, or why you have the ones you do? To put it differently, do you know where you are headed and how you want to get there?

Strategic planning is a process that can be used as a roadmap in determining where you want to go. It could be defined as clarifying the overall purpose and desired results of an organization, and how those results can be achieved.

Tazewell County recognizes the importance of strategic planning and as such, it was one of the highest priorities we gave our new administrator, Mike Freilinger. As we embark on creating our plan, the first step in the process is to arrange focus groups, or public hearings, throughout the county for community leaders and the general public. These meetings will take place in the four largest communities and in two more rural areas of the county, ensuring that no one has to drive too far to attend.

The purpose of these meetings is find out what is important to our constituents and what they expect from their local elected officials. The plan is to have board members from those districts present. Although these meetings will be facilitated, our primary role is to listen.

The information garnered from these public meetings will be collated and brought to a special board meeting held off-site from the county campus. We will then ask ourselves several questions and see how they align with our constituents’ expectations. What do we do? For whom do we do it? How do we excel? And how do these fit with the residents of Tazewell County?

In addition to answering these questions, we will leave our retreat with a new mission statement and guiding principles. Another goal will be to come away with three to six strategic initiatives or broad goals moving forward, including specific outcomes and objectives, action steps on how to achieve the goals, and timetables and evaluation steps along the way.

The mission statement and guiding principles will be our North Star as we make future decisions. How does this plan fit with our mission as a county government? Are we allocating our resources in line with our plan and strategy? If not, we need to use the lessons learned from our strategic plan to make course corrections. If something is not a core function, does not fit with our principles, or if our constituents do not feel it is a priority, we need to stop and change directions.

It is so easy to make daily decisions because “that is how it has always been done.” When our strategic planning session is completed, Tazewell County will be making our core functions the priority, and we will have a document to help guide us in our decisions. This is a critical process and I would encourage all Tazewell County residents to give their opinions and input. iBi


Source URL: https://www.peoriamagazines.com/ibi/2012/aug/refocus-strategic-planning