Community Literacy of Ontario (CLO) (www.nald.ca/clo) is delighted to present this online, self-directed training module on strategic planning. This module is designed to provide literacy agencies and others with insights, step-by-step procedures and the tools to take an organization through an effective strategic planning process.
This online training module was funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (www.trilliumfoundation.org). We are very grateful for their support!
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What is Strategic Planning?
Strategic planning is a disciplined effort that results in fundamental decisions about what the organization will do. It employs concepts, procedures and tools that help managers with important decision-making for the future.
(John Bryson, a well-known author and an expert in strategic planning)
Strategic planning involves looking ahead, making decisions and taking appropriate action to avoid pitfalls and bring about improvements in an organization. It's about planning for success. Although at first glance it may seem complicated, strategic planning can be straightforward. Community Literacy of Ontario is definitely taking a straightforward, uncomplicated approach in this training module.
Literacy practitioners frequently think and plan strategically. We are constantly striving to find more effective and efficient ways to operate our programs. For many, decision-making and ongoing adjustments are instinctive responses to challenges as they arise. Because such activities are an integral part of daily activity, most literacy practitioners are unaware of the actual number of changes they put into effect on a regular basis and never think to count them as strategic improvements.
“I don't really think about it. I just know what's the right thing to do, and I do it”.
(Quote from an Ontario literacy practitioner)
It is useful to know that there are such highly skilled literacy practitioners among us who can operate in this informal way to great advantage. However, a downside of informal planning is that because the process is not documented and recorded anywhere, much of the high quality work of the agency goes unappreciated and unaccounted for.
As we implement a new quality management system called Continuous Improvement Performance Management System (CIPMS), literacy practitioners are learning that skills in planning and documenting program development and growth are necessary. Also, as agencies grow into new roles within Employment Ontario, the time is ripe for learning how to conduct effective strategic planning.
The concept of planning for success is actually a simple one. It's about looking at where you are now, where you want to be in the future and how you will move from here to there. Strategic planning, however, formalizes the process, focuses the scrutiny involved and is more structured in following particular steps and documenting findings.
The literacy world is not alone in recognizing the importance of strategic planning. Most successful not-for-profit organizations, businesses and corporations engage in a formal strategic planning process every three to five years. In times of rapid growth and change, strategic planning may occur more frequently.
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