Crafting Goals for Strategic Planning

A statement about an event is not a goal statement. An event, and details associated with it, make for great strategies. However, a goal serves a different purpose. A goal describes a positive change that results from addressing the root cause of a problem. A goal states affirmatively how things will be different after the goal and its strategies are implemented. Each Goal represents a step forward in achieving the Team’s Vision. Consider the examples in the graphic ‘Setting Appropriate Goals for Strategic Planning.’

Why is it important that a goal describe a positive change that addresses a problem’s root cause? The singular purpose of this Strategic Planning Process is to change the collaborative practices of transition professionals in order to improve the capacity to serve youth across agencies. Outwardly, changes in practice among professionals are observable by measuring the ways in which agency representatives interact with each other – the types of activities, the degree to which they coordinate county-wide, how they come together to collaboratively plan with individual youth and families.

Events, training and other activities, whether they occur once or on a regular schedule, have the potential to be effective strategies, toward the pursuit of a goal that signifies a change in practice. Describing the outcome of how professionals will interact differently with one another, or stakeholders will be better informed as a result of participating in the event – that is the goal. Goals also need to include strategies to sustain the change in practice into the future.

The literature on strategic planning suggests that a Team can effectively manage and implement about 5 – 7 goals at any one time. It is difficult to maintain focus, carve out time for and clearly communicate more than a handful of goals. Each goal should also have only a few strategies at a time for the same reasons. This work is especially complex for Multi Agency Teams since it involves influencing multiple agencies to all move in the same direction. It is advantageous for the Team to focus on a just a handful of goals, with a few strategies each, that every Team member can recite from memory. Make it as easy as you can to get where you want to go by defining precisely how you intend to get there.

Add new goals and strategies to the plan as others are accomplished. Baseline and Progress data should be designed to assist the Team to make data-based strategic decisions about new goals to add or how to refine activities already implemented so they are more effective.

Goals will naturally occur over differing spans of time. Some will need to be put into place before others can begin. For a Team just getting started, instituting an Implementation Team is an important asset. An Implementation Team is a group of people from the county who are recruited as a wider base of the support for the Core Team’s actions. Such a Team can advise and/or be actively involved in implementing the Team’s plan. It creates additional champions to promote what the Team wishes to change about how agencies and schools collaborate with each other and with transition youth and families. Consider establishing an Implementation Team (or re-purposing an existing team) as an initial goal.

The steps detailed in the table ‘Goal Statement Discussion’ outline a Team process for engaging in goal setting.