Thursday, May 23, 2024

Strategic Planning In Local Government

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Why Your Current Process & Tools Fall Short

Local Government Act 2020 Explained: Integrated Strategic Planning and Reporting Framework

Most planning and execution processes are broken. Its not that you meant to have the wrong process. Most organizations just turn to what they already have and know to help organize, drive and report on the process.

Some use a project management tool or business intelligence system, but the majority resort to Excel and PowerPoint. These tools are simply not built for plans that are integrated and span across departments and locations.


  • Enable visualizations

Five Parts To Every Strategic Plan

Be sure to encompass all five parts to the strategic plan including the mission, the vision, the goals, the objectives, and the strategy.

The strategic plan should center in and around the governments mission and vision. The mission is how they communicate to stakeholders, why the government exists, and how citizens benefit from the government or are impacted by it.

The vision is what the team wants to see in the future, which requires working with and listening to citizens and acquiring an understanding of what services they want and need from their government.

Goals should be broad statements of policy or intention which represent various aspects of the vision. Along those lines, objectives are the specific products or services that the team needs to attain the stated goals.

The strategy outlines all those things and identifies the action steps that the team will need to make to fulfill the strategic plan.

The Dos And Donts Of Strategic Planning For Local Governments

Strategy planning is not just for corporations. At StrategyBlocks, we work with a wide number of municipal and county governments across the US to help organize, visualize and execute on their strategic plans for their communities.

Often, these entities dont have dedicated individuals with a sole purpose of managing strategy. They are deeply committed, however, to improving their communities and creating a more seamless process for citizens and government to work together to achieve goals. This makes careful and transparent strategic planning an essential element to success and allows for multiple stakeholders to participate.

One of the significant challenges facing governments today is trying to navigate what feels like an unknown future. COVID-19 was a particularly chaotic time, and local governments discovered a new, crucial need in helping citizens prepare and manage the crisis. Many standard activities ground to a halt, but other, more imperative measures took their place. For most governments the focus narrowed to managing critical infrastructure and communicating with constituents.

As we collectively transition into a new, post-pandemic world, governments have the chance to return to some pre-COVID normalcy, but with new directions and goals. The future may still seem a bit hazy, which is why thoughtful strategic planning and execution is more necessary than ever.

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Three Pitfalls To Avoid In Municipal Strategic Planning

It is easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day aspects of running a municipality or municipal department that you never get around to planning for the future. But, as the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.

If you dont know where you are going, you will never get there. If an organization doesnt know where it is headed, its priorities will change constantly, with little engagement or commitment from its employees. A strategic plan is a roadmap for success. It provides direction and focus for all employees and outlines specific goals and a course of action for achieving them.

How To Get The Most From Strategic Planning

Big Strategic Planning Changes for Local Government in NSW ...

Its customary to do an internal and external assessment as sort of an environmental scan. This is easily accomplished by taking inventory of the governments strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, which is also known as a SWOT analysis.

An internal assessment should take stock of the present opportunities and mandates. It should present an accurate picture of what services the government currently provides. Identify the recipients of the local governments services. Consider whether the government has met their needs in the past and if not, how they can improve their services moving forward.

An external assessment will focus on who the governments customers are, what is important to them, and if the government is serving their needs. This is a time to look at the current government mandates and gain understanding of how well theyve delivered the services theyve promised. The assessment should also consider how to meet needs while staying within the financial, legal, and governmental parameters.

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Learn About Connecting Your Government Strategic Plan And Department Work Plans To Create Alignment And Achieve Your Goals City

Joseph, Director of Customer Success at ClearPoint, has over 10 years of experience working with customers to create efficient performance management and strategy execution processes.


The wide array of responsibilities shouldered by local governments makes it a challenge to coordinate efforts across a city. To overcome those challenges and achieve your short- and long-term goals, its imperative to align your government strategic plan with the work plans of each city department.

This city-wide alignment may sound difficult, but its certainly not impossible. By learning about each part of the process, youll be better equipped to institute good governance at every level.

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Don’t Just Take Our Word For It

Strategic Performance Manager

Alachua County

“We implemented AchieveIt to efficiently collect, manage, and report agency-wide performance measures. Now, our operational activities are aligned with our Boards adopted Strategic Guide. AchieveIt is incredibly flexible and easy to use from both an administration and enduser perspective – we actually had a 98% data entry response rate in our last reporting cycle! Weve never seen that kind of participation before now.”

For the executives, the lightbulb moment is the backend portion. Its the dashboards and the multi-plan view and showing them that theres multiple ways in which they can look at their business that theyve never been able to before.

Deputy Director,

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What is a Local Strategic Planning Statement?

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Increasing The Levels Of Interaction And Communication Inside The Organization

This is a critical component to strategic execution. Too often we see closed-door, siloed work environments where stakeholders and decision makers are limited to only a few high level executives, or where departments largely keep to themselves. This stymies strategic process and can limit input from individuals who have the greatest insight such as those that work directly with citizens. The right strategic plan opens doors within the organization which can create better pathways for achieving broader goals.

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Managers Of Small Communities: Whats Your Experience With Strategic Planning

ICMA is seeking insight from local governments under 20,000 in population for new research.

Strategic plans can be valuable tools that guide managers and their governing bodies in making complex decisions and navigating challenging periods. And yet, financial constraints, limited staff capacity, and lack of buy in from elected officials are just a few examples of the numerous challenges to strategic planning faced by managers of small local governments.

Ive found through my years of work in small communities that despite their prevalence, resources that address these challenges and share the innovative work being done in this space are scarce. To help support and provide resources tailored for managers of small local governments, I have partnered with ICMA to conduct research on the unique aspects of strategic planning for smaller communities.

To begin, we want to hear what your challenges and successes have been in strategic planning. I am seeking survey responses from local government practitioners serving municipalities and counties of 20,0000 or less in population to gather your perspectives on the benefits of strategic planning, whether you currently have one in place or not. Within the survey, there will be an opportunity to share examples of your strategic plan and be considered as a highlighted case study in further research.

Local government practitioners serving communities of 20,000 and under can contribute to this research by participating in a brief .

Remembering Why You Need A Strategic Plan

Local Government and Economic Development

At the mere mention of announcing that its time to revisit the strategic plan, its sure to draw groans from some staff or elected officials in local government. Others might remark, Weve done that, it never accomplishes anything. When these types of remarks surface, they provide an opportunity to remind everyone of why the local government needs a strategic plan and that they chose a career in serving the public.

As the date for the strategic plan approaches, it also presents an opportunity to shape everyones mindset around the positive outcomes that result from sound strategic planning.

Strategic planning provides a framework that sets the stage for improvement. Because the government is affected by internal and external environments, the plan must be flexible to account for changes. Strategic plans factor the short and long-term needs of the community and build milestones to help gauge progress. A finalized strategic plan helps to balance daily operations with long-term goals. Two important objectives that should come from strategic planning are improving efficiency and effectiveness while being mindful of financial parameters. An upcoming strategic planning meeting should remind everyone that the outcome will present them with new opportunities to meet the citizens needs.

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Creating Environments That Allow For Experimentation

Allowing for a culture of experimentation in a government organization can seem nearly impossible. Change doesnt happen quickly there is a reason the word bureaucracy is most often associated with red tape. Yet it is within an open culture of experimentation, one that prizes new ideas and doesnt fear failure, where successful strategic patterns can emerge.

No matter the size of your local government this culture can exist, it simply takes strategic vision and confidence in knowing that results are being monitored and addressed. Building a visual strategy is a key element to creating a culture where experimentation can thrive, because it allows for new ideas and approaches while creating boundaries to help steer toward success.

How The Strategic Planning Toolkit Works

Laying a solid foundation ensures that your consultation, planning and implementation occur with minimal hiccups. Go through the following stages to make sure you have a strong foundation in place.

  • Start with the self-assessment which is the key to the process. It provides an overview of the various tools and templates available, allowing you to determine which components are right for your situation. Access those relevant to your customized process.
  • Setting the stage provides guidance on why strategic planning is a good idea, and initiates early conversations with key players that will generate important feedback and support.
  • Keys to success tool: Sometimes challenges exist that impede the strategic planning process. Use this simple tool to anticipate issues and ensure that its the right time for strategic planning.
  • Building the project team: Its vital to have the right people on board to steer the process. Before proceeding, establish your committee or project team that will be involved at every stage. Template: Terms of reference
  • Workplan: From the self-assessment, you can easily organize your customized process into a high-level customized workplan that will guide the planning stages.

2. Where are we now?

Before deciding which road to follow, its a good idea to know which direction youre facing. Strategic planning is no different: start by gaining an understanding of your community and its current context.

3. Where do we want to go?

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Park City Municipal’s Long

An update from the ALGA Strategic Planning meeting with Mayor Matt Burnett

Through evolving and sustaining a complete community, the City Council of Park City Municipal Corporation developed four strategic goals and three critical priorities that guide decision-making and provide the structure for ensuring that incremental, measurable steps are taken to achieve the communitys vision and values.

Community Vision and Values

In 2009 the City conducted a series of interviews, surveys, open houses, etc., to better understand the Community Vision or the way residents see Park City, what they value, and what they want local government to focus on. We learned that ourmandate is to Keep Park City Park City. The Citys strategic planning process is designed to ensure that all city actions are geared toward achieving this Vision.


Park City Long Term Strategic PlanPark City Municipals Long-term Strategic Plan gives usfull and part-time residents, PCMC employees, hospitality workers, and whoever loves Park City and is interested in ensuring its future successthe tools to align resources and decision making so that we do not run from uncertainty but embrace it and plan for it. Park City Municipals Long-term Strategic Plan is comprised of the Community Vision and Values, a Mission Statement, Council Strategic Goals and Priorities, Desired Outcomes, and Key Indicators and is the definitive resource that aligns all of these components while demonstrating to the community the various efforts underway to realize their vision.

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Strategic Planning In Local Government

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Strategic planning is one of the most effective tools in local government to improve organizational performance and sustainability. Strategic plans help public managers develop a detailed course of action to take an organization from its current state to the desired future state while ensuring its survival and success. This one-day course is designed for local public managers serving mid-tier and leadership roles. It offers public managers the tools to develop new strategic plans or improve their existing plans. This course employs accessible step-by-step techniques to demystify the strategic planning process for public managers and presents flexible, pragmatic methods to implement strategic plans.

This course is a part of SOGs Evidence-Based Course Series.

Learning outcomes:

  • Identify the benefits of strategic planning
  • Develop and refine mission, vision, and values
  • Analyze organizational environment
  • Identify and frame strategic issues
  • Formulate strategic alternatives
  • Develop an understanding of logic models

The course consists of the following seven sections:

  • Section One: Introduction to Strategic Planning

  • Section Two: Purpose

How Should Government Strategic Plans And Work Plans Be Linked

Regardless of where you startwhether you have work plans and need a strategic plan or vice versaall plans should inform one another. They should connect, but do not have to be the same.

In other words, dont fall into the trap of focusing on operational and tactical items during the government strategic planning process. Your strategic plan should include items that are top-level, forward-looking priorities. Operational initiatives and goals should be reserved for department work plans.

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Integrated Strategic Planning And Reporting Framework

There are new provisions of the Local Government Act 2020, which require councils to take an integrated approach to strategic planning and reporting. Due to the principles based nature of the Act, Local Government Victoria is seeking to avoid being prescriptive in telling councils how to implement the strategic planning and reporting sections of the Act, and to rather work with councils to identify and design the supports councils may need to implement the provisions of the Act. This will be an ongoing conversation.

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