TABLE OF CONTENTS
Why Plan? ...................................................................... 5
Planning to Plan ............................................................. 5
Strategic Planning versus Long-Range
Planning ......................................................................... 5
Role of the LWIB Executive Director ............................. 6
Organizing the Strategic Planning Committee ............... 6
Choosing a Consultant ................................................... 6
The Strategic Planning Process
Keys to Strategic Thinking and Strategic Actions
The purpose of this guide is to Phase 1 Analyze Strengths and
provide Workforce Investment Weaknesses ..................................................................... 7
Boards with a basic framework for
Strategic Planning which is illus- Phase 2 Review Environmental Trends ........................ 10
trated by one board’s experience.
It includes a commentary Phase 3 Create/Review Your Mission
on their process, as well as lessons Statement ........................................................................ 12
learned and problems encoun-
tered. Phase 4 Identify Strategic Issues and
Strategic Initiatives ......................................................... 14
It is a tool for Local Workforce
Investment Boards (LWIBs) to: Phase 5 Create a Strategy Scorecard ............................ 16
Begin examining their
readiness for Strategic Writing the Plan Document ............................................ 18
Learn from the Implementing and Monitoring ........................................ 18
experience of another
LWIB. Additional Reference Sources ......................................... 19
Use strategic planning
worksheets and steps that Appendices: REB of Hampden County Completed
have been tailored to Planning Forms .............................................................. 21
Understand how to
conduct a simplified
Practical Strategic Planning for Workforce Boards 3
Planning produces more than an actual planning document, it stimulates forward thinking. It is a
process that assists the board and staff in focusing on the right priorities. Successful strategic planning
• A blueprint for action. The plan is a conceptual framework that guides and supports the
board and staff as they go about doing the work of
establishing and operating a local workforce devel-
opment system. Boards should use this planning
• An explicit understanding of the organization’s process as an opportunity to inspire
its members and provide the board
purpose and values among the board members. That and staff with a game plan for the
understanding supports an increased level of com- future.
mitment to the organization and its goals.
• Broad milestones with which to monitor achieve- Don Gillis
ments and assess results. Executive Director
Mass Workforce Board Association
The process of working together is improved by:
• Creating a forum for understanding why the board
and the organization exist and the shared values that should influence decisions.
• Fostering successful communication and teamwork among the board of directors and staff.
• Laying the groundwork for meaningful change by stimulating strategic thinking and focus-
ing on what is really important to the organization’s long-term success.
Planning to Plan
A strategic planning process has its proper time and place in the life of a board. It is important to spend
time determining if conditions are right to make this a creative, collaborative, successful endeavor.
Committed leadership, support from the Board Chair and other key members, as well as a willingness to
be flexible and change, are all conditions which are important to consider as a board plans to plan.
Consider several questions before beginning the planning process. Why does the organization want to
develop a strategic plan? If the project is undertaken primarily because that is what every organization
seems to be doing, there may not be the motivation or commitment needed for a successful process. Is
this the right time to go through the planning process? In a time of crisis, such as a major financial
crunch or the departure of an executive director, these situations should be addressed first. Who will be
on the committee? Take the time to line up planning committee members who can devote some time to
the project and who are interested in developing the organization’s direction. How do you empower the
planning committee to take ownership of the plan? Will the process be facilitated by a consultant or
advisor? Take into account how much experience the organization has with planning. Many organiza-
tions prefer to use paid or volunteer assistants who can help keep the planning focused and on track.
What role should the LWIB executive director take?
Strategic Planning versus Long-Range Planning
Strategic planning is one of the best tools executive directors have for coping with the challenges that
confront workforce boards now and in the years ahead. Its purpose is to ensure that the board’s mission
and strategies are in line with changing environmental conditions. Because of this external emphasis and
the larger picture it presents, strategic planning is different from long-range planning. While both types
of planning focus on what the board should do to improve its performance, long-range planning is
primarily concerned with internal operations. On the other hand, strategic planning encourages work-
force board members to consider a larger vision for creating highly visible and coordinated workforce
development systems that align with current and projected environmental conditions.
Practical Strategic Planning for Workforce Boards 5
• Bring a neutral objective perspective to the process
by asking clarifying questions, challenging as- We wanted to engage a consultant
sumptions, and encouraging the group. who would challenge us. Julie asked
us “Why do you want to do this?
• Keep the group on track with the process.
Can you accomplish this by doing
something other than strategic
Hampden wanted to hire someone who could help the planning planning?” The other consultants
committee members interpret the key issues and then challenge just told me what they could do for
them to refine those issues. When working with consultants it is me.
important to clearly define the scope of the project and identify
the benefits and/or outcomes. Agree on the responsibilities of
Hampden County REB Executive
the consultant, executive director, and board members. Director
The Strategic Planning Process
Once the board is committed to developing a strategic plan and the committee is in place, a five-phase
process will result in a useful game plan that keeps the board focused on the bigger picture. In phases
one and two, the committee analyzes the board’s strong and weak points and the external situation
resulting from environmental conditions and projections. With a shared understanding of the board’s
role in relation to its environment, the committee begins the next phase of developing a new mission for
the workforce board or reviewing an existing mission. Guided by the direction that the mission pro-
vides, in phase four the committee identifies focal points or issues that emerge from the review of the
internal and environmental analyses. To address the key issues, three or four major courses of action,
termed strategic initiatives, are designated. The board will undertake these strategic initiatives to achieve
its mission. The last phase involves building a strategy scorecard that will provide the board with a
mechanism for monitoring progress toward implementation of the strategic plan.
PHASE 1 ANALYZE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
Gather information from committee members and external stakeholders (surveys, focus groups, or inter-
views). Rate the top three or four strengths and the major three or four weaknesses.
All organizations have strengths and weaknesses in terms of either their resources or capabilities. A
review of what is done very well and what might need improvement yields important information
needed to develop goals and strategies later in the planning process.
This review is a good first task for a newly formed strategic planning committee. No lengthy pre-meet-
ing work is necessary, since each of the members has information based on his or her association with
the workforce board. Setting up a strength/weakness table on a flip chart, as shown in Worksheet 1, will
help to facilitate the committee’s discussion.
Gather Information from Other Sources
It is also valuable to get information from other sources to supplement the review of the committee.
Surveys, interviews and focus groups are examples of techniques for gathering additional information
from others who interact with the organization. These sources may include key individuals at the Career
Centers, area chambers of commerce, employers, elected officials, leaders of community-based organi-
zations, economic development agencies, and others who interact with the workforce board.
The advantage of getting feedback from individuals and groups beyond the committee is that it provides
a validation of perceptions held by committee members. Equally important, this information may
suggest weaknesses or strengths unknown to the committee.
Practical Strategic Planning for Workforce Boards 7
WORKSHEET 1: TABLE OF STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
List the major strengths and weaknesses of the workforce board.
1. Consider resources the workforce board has for carrying out its work activities and
processes. These may include financial, physical (buildings, equipment, etc.),
human (experiences, knowledge, skills, competencies of employees, etc.), and
intangible assets (organization history, culture, policies, relationships, etc.).
2. Examine the workforce board’s capabilities. These involve the actual work activi-
ties and processes. Are there specific things that people in the organization do
particularly well? What processes might be improved? Consider areas such as
customer service, information systems, marketing, communication, etc.
Practical Strategic Planning for Workforce Boards 9
WORKSHEET 2: TABLE OF FAVORABLE AND UNFAVORABLE
List the major favorable and unfavorable environmental trends that workforce boards will face.
1. List the trends that you believe will favorably affect workforce development in the
next 2–5 years.
For example, if forecasts show growth in the region in the numbers of individuals between 15 and 19
years old, this could be considered favorable to workforce development, since this is a politically
definable group that is targeted by the state and federal governments for workforce funding.
2. List the trends that you believe will be unfavorable or pose threats to workforce
development, assuming no action is taken to offset the trend.
For example, suppose the county’s low unemployment rates and lack of higher-skilled job opportuni-
ties is expected to continue. If no action is taken, this will be an unfavorable trend to workforce
FAVORABLE ENVIRONMENTAL UNFAVORABLE ENVIRONMENTAL
Practical Strategic Planning for Workforce Boards 11
WORKSHEET 3: VISION STATEMENT AND MISSION
1. List the existing or proposed vision statement and mission.
2. Analyze it for potential changes or clarifications.
Does it need revision, based on the assessments of the organization and the environment? Has the
mission shifted over the years? Is it too long? Is it too activity-focused? Does it clearly answer the
question “why does the workforce board exist?”
Practical Strategic Planning for Workforce Boards 13
WORKSHEET 4: IDENTIFYING KEY STRATEGIC INITIATIVES
Internal Strengths Internal Weaknesses
Matching Internal Situation (Items here are from Worksheet 1) (Items here are from Worksheet 1)
to Environmental Forecasts
Strategic Initiative: Strategic Initiative:
Favorable Environmental Course of action that is based on a Course of action that is based on a
Trends strength and aligns with a pre- favorable environmental trend and
dicted favorable environmental is developed to offset an organiza-
(Items here are from Worksheet 2) trend. tional weakness.
Strategic Initiative: Strategic Initiative:
Unfavorable Environmental Course of action that is based on a Course of action that is developed
Trends strength and is developed to offset to offset an organizational weak-
unfavorable environmental ness and unfavorable environmental
(Items here are from Worksheet 2) trend(s). trend(s).
Practical Strategic Planning for Workforce Boards 15
WORKSHEET 5: STRATEGY SCORECARD
Strategic Initiative Responsibility and Time- Measurement
Initiative Summary of strategy (Individuals/group responsible for (Types of measures that indicate
from Worksheet 4 each Initiative) whether the initiatives are being
Key Elements Time Frames
(Summary) (Individuals/group responsible for (Types of measures that indicate
each Initiative) whether the initiatives are being
Initiative Summary of strategy
from Worksheet 4
Practical Strategic Planning for Workforce Boards 17
ADDITIONAL REFERENCE SOURCES
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT FOR NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS
Allison, Michael & Jude Kaye. 1997. Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations: A Practical Guide
and Workbook. NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Barry, Bryan W. 1997. Strategic Planning Workbook for Nonprofit Organizations. St. Paul, MN:
Amherst Wilder Foundation.
Bryce, Herrington. 2000. Financial and Strategic Management for Nonprofit Organizations. 3rd ed.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Bryson, John M. 1995. Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strength-
ening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Drucker, Peter F. 1990. Managing the Nonprofit Organization. NY: Harper Collins.
Duca, Diane. 1996. Nonprofit Boards: Roles, Responsibilities, and Performance. NY: John Wiley &
Gelatt, James P. 1992. Managing Nonprofit Organizations in the 21st Century. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx
Grace, Kay Sprinkel. 2000. The Board’s Role in Strategic Planning. Washington, D. C: National Center
for Nonprofit Boards.
Hay, Robert D. 1990. Strategic Management in Non-Profit Organizations. NY: Quorum Books.
Howe, Fisher. 1997. The Board Member’s Guide to Strategic Planning: A Practical Approach to
Strengthening Nonprofit Organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Siciliano, Julie. 1997. “The Relationship between Formal Planning and Performance in Nonprofit
Organizations.” Journal of Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 7(4): 387–403.
Practical Strategic Planning for Workforce Boards 19
Summary of Internal Situation: REB Strengths and Weakness Worksheet
Items above the line were those given the greatest weight by the Strategic Planning Committee.
• Staff leadership and vision. Staff has the ability to • Awareness levels of the REB’s roles by employers,
see the big picture regarding workforce issues and particularly small businesses, community agencies,
takes a proactive approach to workforce invest- and citizens needs improvement. Even those
ment (example: one of the first REBs to push familiar with the REB are not always clear about is
through career centers concept —ahead of the purpose and responsibilities and may turn to others
curve). Executive director has expertise based on for workforce development forums.
his background and experience—delegates well • Funding constraints restrict creativity. Sources of
and shares knowledge. funding are not steady and result in varying levels
• Board of Director commitment and composition. of support.
This has resulted in a core group of thinkers that • Network of local-level partners. REB connections
provides balance in terms of ensuring an ongoing with local partners for the purpose of enhancing
strategic perspective with regards to workforce political efforts are weak and represent a lost
issues. opportunity. Collaborative efforts with the Consor-
• Staff knowledge of the system. Staff has strong tium are not yet at optimal levels.
contacts with the State, a clear understanding of
the primary roles of facilitating, coordinating,
convening groups around an issue, and a strong
record of securing grants.
• Staff team orientation. The staff is a cohesive • Perceptions about Board of Director composition.
group with a wide range of talents and expertise, The majority of external stakeholders interviewed
not risk adverse and ready to work as a team on commented on the lack of representation of key
key issues. groups in terms of Board of Director composition.
• Board of Director Longevity. Continued participa- The perception appeared to be that the REB does
tion of long-time board members brings a history not pay attention to or purposely eliminates key
and understanding of workforce issues. stakeholders.
• REB internal systems. Accounting system has • Focus. Staff’s role as intermediary (convener
good checks and balances with control accounts. around issues) and facilitator of the one-stop
Technology systems incorporate up-to-date system is side-tracked by program provider
hardware and adequate software packages. activities.
• REB physical location and work environment. • Hampden County Consortium. Collaborative
Central location provides easy access to agencies efforts with the Consortium are not yet at optimal
and other contacts. Attractive offices and appropri- levels.
ate facilities for staff team sessions and other large • State’s Regional Employment Board system. The
group meetings. State’s REB system creates geographic boundaries
and also results in little consistency among REBs.
• Competition among REBs. The state’s 16 REBs
are territorial and do not actively collaborate on
Practical Strategic Planning for Workforce Boards 23
Worksheet for Comparing Internal Situation to Environmental Trends to Generate Strategic
INTERNAL STRENGTHS INTERNAL WEAKNESSES
Staff leadership and vision. Staff Awareness levels of the REB’s
ability to see the big picture roles by employers, agencies, and
regarding workforce issues and citizens need improvement. Even
evidence of their proactive those familiar with the REB are
approach to issues. not always clear about its purpose
Board of Director commitment and responsibilities and may turn
and composition. Core group of to others for workforce develop-
thinkers that provides balance in ment forums.
terms of ensuring an ongoing Funding constraints restrict
SITUATION ANALYSIS REB strategic perspective. creativity. Sources of funding are
Staff knowledge of the system. not steady and result in varying
Strong contacts with the State, a levels of support.
clear understanding of the Network of local providers to
primary roles of facilitating, enhance local political relation-
coordinating, convening groups ships and efforts could be
around an issue, and a strong improved. Collaborative efforts
track record of securing grants. with the Consortium are not yet at
FAVORABLE ENVIRONMENTAL TRENDS
Increased funding for incumbent worker skill
enhancement. At the national and state level, more
emphasis is being placed on funding for incumbent
/current worker skills upgrading, helping to advance YOUTH COUNCIL FOCUS
worker self-sufficiency. INITIATIVE
Growth in youth-group cohorts. The only two
age groups projected to grow in raw numbers
between 2000 and 2005 in Hampden County is the ADULT BASIC
15 to 19 year old and 20 to 24 year old population.
Growth in these cohorts in favorable, particular WORKFORCE SKILLS
since youth is a politically definable group. SYSTEM
Technology. Federal funding requires regional
approaches to solving technology skills shortages;
this is in line with newly formed partnerships (i.e.,
Economic/Business. The state has one of the
highest labor force participation rates in the nation.
Difficulties in recruiting skilled workers with an
already high labor force participation rate are
compounded by slow population growth rate. In YOUTH COUNCIL FOCUS
addition Hampden County will continue to be INITIATIVE
characterized by a low wage rate, a growing service
sector, and a lower incidence of high-tech jobs as a
proportion of total jobs. ADULT BASIC
Education and Training. Given the situation in
Hampden County (low unemployment and a lack of WORKFORCE SKILLS
higher-skilled job opportunities), a major concern SYSTEM
is that education and training trends are preparing
workers in a local economy that does not have the
Political/Legal. The state does not fare well given
federal funding formulas based on unemployment
rates. Diminished dollars are expected.
Practical Strategic Planning for Workforce Boards 25
2ND STRATEGIC RESPONSIBILITY AND MEASUREMENT
INITIATIVE TIME FRAMES
Adult Basic Workforce Skills System Responsibility: Newly formed Sub- 1. Development & dissemination of
Expand the REB’s leadership role to Committee of the Board of Directors a comprehensive information &
include the development of a more and REB staff (B. Sperry & VISTA referral database of Basic Educa-
integrated and responsive system that Volunteer to be hired). tion, Literacy & workforce readi-
builds and develops the adult basic ness services to facilitate the referral
educational and workforce readiness Sub-committee to include represen- of customers.
skills within our region’s labor supply. tation from the Strategic Planning 2. Development of customer
Committee, Community Colleges, feedback mechanisms to continu-
• Establishment of an on-going Community-Based Organizations ously improve the adult education
and dynamic compact of and other interested groups. system.
community-based organiza- 3. Increased awareness of the REB
tions, employers and educators as a leader in local workforce issues
with a common interest in this related to education, as measured
issue to meet the changing Timeframes: by:
needs of the workforce. • September 2001—REB • An improvement over current
• Development of an action plan, Subcommittee formed awareness gathered in
which includes strategies, plans • September 2001—“Compact” baseline data of % by 2004.
for implementation (including participants identified • Quarterly release of printed
piloted demonstration projects) • January-February 2002— and/or web-based press
and desired outcomes that will Action Plan developed with releases, statements, an-
improve the adult education activities and timeframes nouncements, etc., on issues
delivery system. This plan will specified impacting our workforce
include: • March 2002—Quarterly (i.e., local response to
• Identification of key skill levels progress reports made at MassINC reports); on current
to be included (i.e., reading, regularly scheduled Board events of the adult education;
language, math, computer meetings and on successes made in
literacy, problem-solving, improving the adult educa-
communication, etc.) and tion system.
baseline measures and require- • Organization or co-sponsor-
ments for an effective system. ship (e.g., with Labor) of at
• Gathering of baseline data least 1 yearly medium to
regarding current awareness of large scaled event by that
the REB as a leader in work- highlights education’s impact
force issues related to education on workforce or a program.
and specific efforts to move the 4. Increase in local, state, and
REB into a leadership position private investment to expand basic
within the community. educational services in our region
Note: Sub-committee to develop
more specificity to these scorecard
measures, including the assignment
of numerical goals.
Practical Strategic Planning for Workforce Boards 27
4TH STRATEGIC RESPONSIBILITY AND MEASUREMENT
Community Awareness and Responsibility: Ad-hoc sub- 1. Improvement over current
Support committee of the Executive Commit- awareness gathered in baseline data
tee and REB staff of % by 2004.
Increase community-wide awareness (C. Abramowitz, B. Sperry, and B. 2. Quarterly release of printed and/
of the REB’s role in workforce Ward). Also, member from the or web-based press releases,
development and expand public and Strategic Planning Committee. statements, announcements, etc., on
private resources. issues impacting our workforce.
3. Improved relationship with local/
• Increased awareness among state legislators as measured by:
employers and business Timeframes:
leaders, community-based • December 2001—Marketing • Voting support for critical
organizations, and political plan approved by Executive line items in State budget,
partners, via development of a Committee with activities and • Local elected official support
marketing/ communication timeframes specified on key decisions points (i.e.,
plan with specific strategies • January 2002—Implementa- Career Center operator
and desired outcomes. This tion of marketing strategies decisions, WIA planning and
Plan will include: • February 2002—Progress allocation of resources, and
Reports made at regularly • Joint sponsorship of at least 1
Gathering of baseline data scheduled Executive Commit- yearly event on an issue
regarding current awareness tee meetings impacting local workforce.
of the REB’s critical role in
workforce development 4. Involvement and support of
issues. business leaders in the community:
Strategy for dissemination
of information to the • Number of direct contacts
Tactics to address: • Number of businesses
• Legislative/political utilizing services
efforts to result in • Level of support at annual
improved relationships events
with political partners.
• Greater involvement and 5. Increase in funds to the REB’s
support of leaders in the budget overall of %, with at least %
community. being comprised of new alternative
• Fund raising efforts that public and private investments, by
result in increased 2004.
alternative sources of
funding, both public and
private to support the
REB’s vision and mission.
Note: Sub-committee to develop
more specificity to these scorecard
measures, including the assignment
of numerical goals.
Practical Strategic Planning for Workforce Boards 29
Phase 1: Analyze Board Phase 2: Review
Strengths and Weaknesses Environmental Trends and
Phase 3: Create/Review
Phase 4: Identify Strategic Issues and
Phase 5: Create a Strategy Scorecard
Practical Strategic Planning for Workforce Boards 31
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