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Strategic planning is one of the most important responsibilities of any organization's management team. Effective strategic planning is essential to providing clear direction and measurable, high-priority goals in support of an organization's Mission and movement toward its Vision. Many organizations fail to achieve their Vision because they focus too much on managing and not enough on leading, with Senior Managers preoccupied with responding to urgent but short-term issues instead of building a strategic plan and organizational culture that embrace continuous improvement and the achievement of the highest priority long-term goals. Some organizations with visionary leadership do an excellent job of strategic planning, but also fail to move toward attaining their Vision because they have not effectively communicated their Strategic Plan — Mission, Vision, Long-Term Goals and Strategies to all of their employees. The Vision may be compelling, but without employee ownership, management is left trying to pull a very heavy sled up the mountain. When Senior Managers in many organizations return from Strategic Planning retreats (“Mount Olympus”), they are often greeted with skepticism regarding what management “flavor-of-the-month ”approach they have embraced the belief that before long the new approach will fade away due to lack of management commitment, employee by-in, or a plan that is too complex and unprioritized to effectively implement.

East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) is a combined water and wastewater agency with over 1.3 million customers. The Wastewater Department (knows as Special District No. 1, SD-1) has not only a clear Mission which defines what it does but also a Vision which describes the manner in which it accomplishes its Mission and how it is perceived by all stakeholders. A Strategic Business Plan (SBP) was developed to help achieve SD-1's mission and vision. The Plan was developed to be simple, consistent, rational and supportable by all employees. The philosophy in developing the Plan was “If it doesn't sell on Main Street, it won't work. ”The SBP encompasses the Mission, Vision and measurable Long-Term Goals. It does not include grandiose, subjective and impossible to measure goals such as “Being the Best Wastewater Utility in the United States“. More importantly, the goals are few in number, compelling, business-focused, and inspirational that would be a stretch for most any wastewater organization to achieve. We have found that the key to implementing our SBP is to get employees motivated and supporting it. That required involving employees in the development as well as implementation of the Plan.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2001-01-01

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