Posted by: Knightbird | February 23, 2011

True Strategic Planning

The world is changing rapidly. Technologies that we have today may disappear tomorrow with new ones scheduled to take their place. The iPad was not a part of my world just a couple of years ago, but it’s existence has the potential for reducing additional waste in the conduct of governance meetings—board members, elected public officials, staff meetings and public meetings, trainings and conferences. We may also save a tree or two in the process.

In my mind, true strategic planning revolves completely around the customer. Chugachmiut’s current strategic plan regarding operational excellence is very short and straight to the point: “To be well managed, fiscally responsible, innovative and willing to take calculated risks.” We believe that operational efficiency serves our customers by allowing us to deliver services with the least amount of waste.

In our strategic plan, We don’t have Goals, Objectives, Strategies and Tactics worked out in 5 year blocks. We have our long term vision, and our next target condition. This next target condition gives us a direction that can be turned quickly when opportunity presents. And we find opportunity presenting itself frequently.

I mentioned the iPad (and other tablets) because of its newness and the ability it creates for organizations to reduce more waste. I have watched administrative personnel stand at copiers, then assemble board packets into binders with printed tabs. Some organizations use glue style binders. I remember in the 1980’s how some bank board members saved board packets for years, which only imposed on them an obligation during litigation to examine all of their records and produce documents they had custody of. I have watched these binders be updated on the fly by sending someone to the copier and then to each binder to replace the original. Administrative personnel have to purchase office supplies, setting the accounting processes into motion. Managers and Executives have to get the hard copy to staff early to facilitate the assembly and distribution process.  You can lean out the process for producing hard copy, but it is still employee intensive.

The next step for reducing waste seems to be assembly of digital board packets and availability through an internet connection anywhere you are at. You can download the material to read at your leisure, and dispose of it by putting it in the trash. And you still have access to the online copy. The information can be updated for multiple users by one replacement. And if you use the iPads as slave devices, then one leader can move the pages to what is being discussed. Or the user can disconnect from slave mode and move through the documents at their own pace.

What is the strategic plan to aim for (the long term vision). Well, that might actually be the availability of real time data on business operations, financial data and quality data. In other words, real time data aggregated for governance purposes. Then there would be no assembly of reports and data. Governance members would have access to information as it occurs. To get there might require quick shifts and adjustments, which is a huge change from the traditional strategic planning system.

Goodbye traditional thinking.


  1. I too can appreciate the advances in technology. The other day a sales person stopped by a local machine shop to demonstrate some new tooling. When asked about other types of tools, out came the iPad and the catalogue appeared on the screen.

    The sales person commented that the catalogue was just update last night and should have the latest items available. I can only think that, at one time, a catalogue update was a major undertaking. Now, updates occur automatically over night or as a background task.

    There is a lot of opportunity to improve and it sounds like you have identified a significant opportunity.

    Thanks for sharing.

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