Guide to How to Create and Use a Strategic Plan

Version 1. January 25, 2021

This section provides guidance on how to create and use a departmental strategic plan that aligns with your institution’s mission, vision, and values and that identifies prioritized actions your department can take over a multi-year period. The plan, an internally-facing document, developed through conversation and reviewed regularly, represents a departmental commitment to

, , and . For additional guidance and an example, see the resources on Creating SMART Goals and Structure of a Strategic Plan. A department strategic plan may be developed as an aspect or consequence of a program review (see the section on How to Undertake an Undergraduate Program Review) or developed by a department at a time when new initiatives are needed, even if not part of the schedule of program reviews. For guidance on departmental mission, vision, and values statements, see the section on How to Create and Use Foundational Documents.

Benefits

A strategic plan declares departmental priorities, highlights the distinctive features of a program, guides department activities, and enables department leaders to advocate for resources and communicate strategies to achieve successes. The plan can provide a transparent framework for resource allocation and an outline of common initiatives through which members contribute to improving the department—factors especially important in challenging budgetary environments. Constructing or revising the plan provides an opportunity for members of a department to incorporate diverse perspectives in envisioning its future, recognize individual activities, gauge successes and needs, and help articulate its mission and/or values. A collaboratively developed plan can serve as a road map to focus the attention and develop buy-in of department members and administrators and guide a systematic approach to departmental improvement.

Effective Practices

  1. Design and follow an inclusive process for developing or revising a departmental strategic plan

  2. Adopt, use, and maintain the plan

The Cycle of Reflection and Action

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1738311, 1747563, and 1821372. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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