Thanksgiving and Strategic Planning (A letter to my staff)

Have you ever tried to buy a turkey the evening before Thanksgiving? I have firsthand knowledge and can assure you that it is a painful process involving the endless search for a parking space and stalking people with your car that you see leaving the store.

It means navigating congested grocery aisles and squeezing past people with a shopping cart that has wheels that will not cooperate. The conclusion to this fiasco is standing in a line that snakes all the way back to the milk section and inching forward pseudo aggressively to protect your position from potential line jumpers.

Still, as painful as last-minute turkey shopping is, there are some people who would prefer to suffer this ordeal than to work on their organization’s strategic plan.

I think of a strategic plan the same way that I think about planning a vacation. Sure, there are going to be some hiccups in the process. The joy and excitement we can find are in the destination; the programs, collection, facilities, and events we offer the community.

This year we are collaborating with the Public Management Center (PMC) with the University of Kansas. Director, Laura Howard, and Consulting Services Program Manager, Patty Gentrup, both recently met with the Administrative Team. We previously partnered with KU to develop our ROI study and it is good to get to work with them again. They know our organization and have insight and experience working in Johnson County.

Laura and Patty will meet with the All Managers groups this week. Previously the Administrative Team led the strategic planning process. I am so proud of everyone that was here during that process. The work you did was outstanding and I felt that every staff person contributed to the plan that we have today. It is my goal to continue that collaborative approach. This time our strategic plan will be led by our All Managers Team rather than Administration.

Why make this change? I believe those closest to the customer have the greatest insight and knowledge about the services we need to be providing.

The three central themes of Education, Community Building and Convenience will not change. Together we are going to look at the goals and tactics we have employed over the last five years. As a group, we will decide if some of these goals need to stay or if some need to change.

The purpose of the first meeting KU will have with the All Managers Team will be to review and identify community stakeholders, tools, and techniques that we presently use to engage our patrons. We will work to design and plan a schedule that includes staff and provides an opportunity for us to listen to your thoughts and ideas. Finally, the All Managers Team will reflect on our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT).

You are the heart and soul of this organization. I am curious to learn about the things that you have seen change over the last five years. I am excited about having our managers lead the process. They are a talented, committed to listening and learning. Our shared vision is to create a strategic plan that adds value and meaning to the lives of the people we serve.