Originally published December 18, 2019
Strategic planning is the process of determining your organization’s short and long-term objectives, as well as the best approach to achieving those objectives. It is a process of continuous improvement whereby you establish a vision and purpose, identify your goals and milestones on the path to achieving your vision, monitor your performance against specific success criteria, and adjust accordingly to accomplish your objectives.
A well-defined Strategic Plan is:
- Proactive and focused
When developing your strategic plan, you need to consider possible risks and opportunities that may arise along the way. Proactively develop plans to address possible pitfalls and capitalize on growth opportunities.
- Flexible and adaptable
Be prepared for the plan to change as you work towards your goal. Ensure that you are prepared to adapt to changing circumstances, new priorities, or unanticipated obstacles.
- Measured and managed
Identify success metrics at the outset so that as you work towards your goal you can monitor your performance towards your objectives. Establish a regular cadence of reviewing your performance and adjusting the plan as necessary.
At D2L, we have created a Strategic Planning Workbook to help you through this process. This article will guide you through this process and you can follow along in the workbook as you go to develop your own plan.
Step 1: Determine your organization’s vision for learning
A vision statement describes what learning at your organization will look like in the future. This statement is a “beacon” that guides your organization towards the future it desires. The vision should be longer-term, usually 5 or more years into the future.
When crafting your vision statement, consider:
- What is the ideal vision for the future of learning at our organization?
- What is our organization’s mission? How can learning contribute to achieving our mission?
- What are our organizational values? How does learning align?
Example: Provide learning experiences that inspire.
Step 2: Clarify the project purpose
The project purpose is the WHY of the project. A clear project purpose ensures that everyone on your team is aimed at the same results, achieving the same outcomes, and working towards the same goals.
A To/By purpose statement can help to clarify your project purpose and align your team:
- TO [achieve what] – this clause defines intent; the desired outcome of the effort
- BY [doing what] – this clause defines movement; the actual steps taken towards the TO
Example: TO improve the learner experience BY implementing an LMS with improved functionality and integrated video tools.
Step 3: Identify success criteria
It is important to identify your success criteria at the outset of your strategic planning process so that you have key metrics and indicators that you are working towards. Often, when we begin the strategic planning process, you may have broad, organizational objectives that you want to accomplish. You need to move through a process of turning those broad objectives into focused success criteria. Follow along in the Strategic Planning Workbook to go through this process for your organization.
Moving from organizational objectives to focused success criteria
Step 4: Set goals, identify KPIs, and decide on phases for your plan
Once you have identified your success criteria, the next step is to break down your project into a set of focused, manageable goals. Start by asking yourself: To achieve our purpose for this project, what will we need to accomplish along the way? For example, your project purpose might be to implement a LMS with improved functionality to enhance the learning experience. You might identify four specific goals on your path:
- Plan and prepare for a successful Brightspace implementation
- Drive adoption through user training and support
- Expand learning programs and/or audiences and enable new tools and features
- Enable a cycle of continuous improvement and growth
You won’t accomplish everything all at once, so use these goals to create phases for your plan. Each phase should have its own overall goal that aligns to your project purpose
Within each phase, you’ll want to identify specific key performance indicators (KPIs) that will let you know you’re on track to achieving your goal for that phase. A KPI is a measurable indicator that shows how you are achieving your business objectives. These help you to evaluate your success in reaching your goals.
Step 5: Decide on tools and tactics to achieve your goals
Next, you’ll need to start thinking about what tools and tactics you will use to achieve your goals. Ask questions like:
- What needs to happen to achieve your goals?
- What needs to happen to support your KPIs?
- How does your audience prefer to learn?
- What experiences will improve learning for your audience?
- What key learner feedback needs to be addressed?
The answers to these questions will help you to identify tactics for achieving your goals.
For example, in Phase 1 above, the goal is all about planning and preparing to launch a new LMS. Some key tactics might be focused around training, establishing and measuring baselines for KPIs, and developing messaging and a communication plan for the change.
Step 6: Document the plan
Finally, you need to document your plan. Write down your vision statement, purpose statement, goals / phases, and KPIs. The tactics you’ve decided on for each phase will help you determine what actions need to happen. Document as many actions as you can think of for each phase. Certain “milestone” actions will happen in each phase.
These are the “big” moments on your path to your vision that will let you know you’re on track. They’re unique to you and your organization and an opportunity for you to celebrate your success and communicate it throughout your organization. Don’t forget to document these as well!
Your plan will change over time! As you learn and grow, so will your plan. Make sure that your revisit and adjust it as necessary.
At D2L, we have created a sample Learning Strategy Roadmap that you can consult as you work through your own strategic planning process.