Deciding Our Next Steps
Decision-making is Step 3 in the strategic planning process. In this step, what you want to discover is what are we going to do based on what we have learned?
You now have some decisions to make. You are about to choose what your agency will focus on over the next few years. There are probably several options or combinations of options that are open to you, but which ones are best? Given the ratings you assigned to the various items identified during assessment, and given your current mandated activity, your agency resources, and current capacity, what decisions are going to produce the best results for your agency?
Some decisions have been made for you already such as those found in the agency's business plan and other mandated activities that you cannot change. Other decisions you can make now, however, are related to actions your agency could take to make necessary improvements or to move forward into new ventures. These are the things you want to identify now.
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Key steps in the decision-making process
To help you make decisions about final priorities, you need to:
- Identify key items that require attention and will appear as strategic action items on the final plan
- Set goals for each strategic action item
Choosing your strategic action items
- Locate on your evaluation chart all items that are coded red (and possibly orange). These represent your critical issues and opportunities. Some may be negatives that require action to correct. Some may be positives, i.e. new ventures the agency wants to pursue.
- Select the most important items. Given the agency's current workload, commitments and mandated activities, you may not be able to respond to everything on the list. In that case, you will have to make choices. In your professional opinion, what would be the strategic choice? It is strengthening your internal environment in order to build capacity for the future, moving the agency forward on a timely opportunity in the community, or working on a combination of both but paced out over a longer period of time and in smaller “chunks”? Which items will bring you the greatest benefit? Which items if left undone will cause the most harm?
- Based on a review of the above, decide and make a list of the key strategic actions your agency will be pursing over the next while. (See the sample chart below)
- Invite your key stakeholders to review these choices and provide feedback. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of coming to a common agreement with key players on the priorities for the next few years. Key players in most agencies include learners, staff, members of the board and volunteers.