Careful consideration needs to be given to selecting strategic planning participants. Many people may want to participate in the process during the beginning stages. However, during the initial stages of strategic planning you may want to select the “vital few” needed for successful planning. As the plan progresses, particularly when you reach action step planning, you will want to involve more people. Keep in mind you will be involving numerous people by seeking their thoughts and feelings regarding the organizational strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats [SWOT] analysis.
Typically, in larger state agencies, the executive staff is involved in the strategic planning process. This generally includes the commissioner or agency director, assistant directors, division heads and human resource director. These professionals are involved from the beginning to the end of the process and should be in attendance at all planning sessions. When a planning member misses a planning session it often requires planners to take significant time at the next meeting to update that missing member. Also, the missing planning member may not agree with all the decisions made at the previous meeting leading to confusion and discord.
Other employees may be asked to participate for a specific piece of the plan because of their subject matter expertise or experience in a particular field. If the agency is subject to oversight from a board, several boards, or other external groups it is advantageous to involve members of the boards and groups in the planning process. It is unrealistic to assume these individuals can or should attend every planning session. It is realistic to seek their input through the surveys and/or focus groups. This provides them with the opportunity to give your organization feedback on issues important to them. You may also find it helpful to share your plan with the boards and groups asking them to look for potential problem areas within the plan. This is your opportunity to seek their support of your plan. Another option is to ask the board or group to designate one member to represent them on the planning team.
Small state agencies, such as commissions or boards, should involve all commission or board members in the planning process. Other individuals may be called upon for a specific planning session because of their subject matter expertise and/or experience.
It is highly recommended state agencies [small and large] seek an independent facilitator to assist them in the planning process. Lack of an independent facilitator can increase planning time three to four-fold and increase the chances of dissention within the organization. The Division of Personnel, Bureau of Education and Training, can provide you with experienced facilitators or put you in touch with private vendors who can perform this function for you. You can also seek facilitators from other state agencies.