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Using Strategy to Build an Action-Oriented Organization

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Effective strategic planning requires a broad perspective and widespread stakeholder input before coming to any conclusions on specific strategic directions. The Columbus, OH, Division of Water (DOW) has utilized this approach to develop key strategies to address its future needs and opportunities and is engaging employees across the organization to implement its plans.

The development of these strategies was led by the DOW executive team in order to create alignment and ensure commitment going forward. In addition to building an action-oriented team at the executive level, key leaders throughout the organization were engaged in researching the issues and opportunities to be addressed in the strategic plan. This executive team-building approach, coupled with widespread organizational involvement, was part of the planning process by design. The strategic planning process was based on the results of recent research (AwwaRF 2004) utilizing the Scan, Plan, Do approach.

The landscape issues were organized around 10 different areas of drivers and opportunities. Each area was scanned for how orderly, dynamic, or chaotic it was seen to be. Subsequent research assessed how “controllable” and how “certain” the issues were, based on available data. This process created a foundation for the executive team to move forward with strategy formulations based on fact, not perception. The strategic development process included extensive employee involvement throughout the organization, particularly at the tactical and action-oriented level. As a result, teams took ownership of these strategic issues to ensure that they could be effectively addressed in the implementation (Do) phase.

Columbus Division of Water has developed a strategic plan that outlines the most important aspects of its strategic direction, goals, and objectives. The key was using a flexible, dynamic, ongoing process that could be revisited as changing conditions dictate. This presentation will explore how Columbus developed its plan using the proven methodology of the Scan, Plan, Do framework.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-01-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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