Implement like hell
With all this being said, there may be times when a full-blown strategic planning process is needed. For example, if it is required by those who oversee your institution, then one should go through the process to mollify those in charge. In addition, having everybody go through the process may be what is needed to get the whole staff committed to putting their effort towards the same goal.
Certainly, some of the concepts that various formal strategic planning processes use have value. For example, SWOT Analysis has one consider the organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats given the basic goals that one wants to attain. Obviously, it would be foolish for librarians or anybody else to create a strategy for achieving a goal without taking into account their organization's strengths and weaknesses as well as the competitive environment.
However, one should be careful before committing copious amounts of resources to create a strategy that could have been developed with less time and money. Depending on how it is done, conducting strategic planning can be financially imprudent. Thus, while it is critical to plan strategically, it is not important to conduct a formal strategic planning process. The prudent manager finds the proper balance between the twin evils of having no strategy because no time was spent on creating one and wasting too many hours of too many people creating a strategic plan.
To finish the example from the beginning of this column about my library's attempt at creating a strategic plan, a few years later we needed to have one to apply for a particular grant. At that point, the University Librarian and a few of us who reported directly to her made one. We completed it in less time than the previous attempt and came away with a perfectly fine strategic plan. Consequently, although planning strategically is critical, a lengthy strategic planning process is not. As Jack Welch wrote:
Forget the arduous, intellectualized number crunching and data grinding that gurus say you have to go through to get strategy right. Forget the scenario planning, year-long studies, and hundred-page plus reports. They're time-consuming and expensive, and you just don't need them. In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell (Welch and Welch, 2005, p. 165)."
Article citation: Mott Linn, (2008) "Planning strategically and strategic planning", Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances, The, Vol. 21 Iss: 1, pp.20 - 23