An Overview of Each of the 5 Steps to Strategic Planning

Step One: Defining the Problems and Examining Root Causes

A Multi Agency Team must first identify the problems that the Team agrees are concerns common across all the agencies. Finding the root cause of a problem leads to discovering concerns and issues that can successfully be resolved by the Team. Otherwise the Team risks wasting time and resources focused on addressing symptoms of problems. Addressing symptoms never gets to the ‘heart’ of why an issue keeps occurring over and over. First pinpointing the Team’s common ground, and root cause increases the likelihood that the Team will:

  • Generate equal buy-in and commitment from each agency
  • Evolve into an effective high performing Team
  • Maximize the benefit of having multiple perspectives to consider in how to address singular and common problems
  • Institute operational, sustainable, agency neutral solutions

Step Two: Analyzing Internal and External Factors and Dynamics

By utilizing a SWOT discussion, the Team identifies the collective and unique Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats each Team member and the agency they represent bring to plan. SWOT is a systematic discussion designed for the Team to reveal the rich array of elements that have the potential to inform the goals and strategies of the plan.

Again, this step is critical in order for a group of people representing multiple agencies to transform into a true Multi Agency Team.

Step Three: Developing a Shared Vision for the Work

After uncovering root cause and defining the SWOT, the Team is positioned to develop a Vision they all share, as to the future state of how they will collaboratively serve transition youth. A group of people representing different agencies need to have time together discussing common ground, shared issues and overlapping roles and responsibilities by engaging in the Step One and Step Two processes. Then the Team is ready to galvanize their ideals for the future into a Vision for the work ahead.

Step Four: Developing Strategic Goals and Components

The Team will spend most of their time in this step, first developing goals and then in reviewing, revising, implementing and updating the plan. The discussions held in the previous three steps informs the development of the goals and other plan components. The most crucial plan component in this step is to identify baseline and progress data. The data provide the foundation for making data-based, strategic decisions about the effectiveness of the goals and strategies in the plan. Without data, Teams have no way to measure if their efforts are paying off, moving the work closer to achieving the Vision.

Step Five: Embedding Strategies for Sustainability and Continuous Improvement

The work ahead can be difficult, frustrating and time consuming. By staying the course and strategically implementing goals, the Team will experience successes, large and small. Honor the improvements, and the time and talent of the people who implemented them, by ensuring there are measures in place to sustain the existence of a Team and new Multi-Agency practices that have been put in place.