A very exciting and important part of strategic planning is selecting strategic priorities and setting goals. It’s essential to gather feedback from your community before diving into setting goals. Often, there are common themes that emerge at strategic planning focus groups and from survey results. Identifying strategic priorities and goals will help guide your services, allocate resources, and provide a flexible roadmap for your library.
Developing Strategic Priorities/Goals
Your strategic priorities and goals should be developed from the responses gathered from your community assessment including your survey, focus group(s), and any other approaches that you used. When you have the responses from your survey and focus groups, you can discuss this data with stakeholders (such as a strategic planning task force, staff, or trustees) to identify common themes. It’s vital to respond directly to the unique needs identified in your community. Some libraries use the Nelson services responses or Project Outcome service areas to shape and select priorities/goals.
What’s the difference between a priority, initiative, and goal?
Massachusetts libraries are fortunate that the MBLC is very flexible in supporting your library to be creative with your strategic plan and not feel boxed in by a specific approach. Currently, the MBLC only requires goals in your plan. Objectives are optional. Check out the MBLC’s required elements for a strategic plan. When you are developing your goals, you can consider different formats. Some libraries call goals by another term like strategic priorities. Some libraries categorize goals within strategic priorities or initiatives. If you have questions about any of the elements of your plan, contact Rob Favini at the MBLC.
Would you like to see some specific examples?
There are many options for how to format your goals. Here are some examples that may be helpful:
- Chelmsford Public Library (2020-2025)
- Includes goals/strategic priorities (also excellent community snapshot)
- Framingham Public Library (2021-2026)
- Colorful design with goals, objectives, and a list of possible actions called “Imagine the Possibilities”
- Gleason Library, Carlisle (2021-2026)
- Traditional goals and objectives format; also includes a nice community facts and figures snapshot; and appendix with results of community assessment
- Olin College of Engineering Library (2020-2022)
- Concise design includes key themes, strategic principles, and priorities
- Somerville Public Library (2019-2025)
- Includes strategic priorities drawn from community themes
Getting Started with Action Planning
The MBLC requires an action plan each year by December 1st. Once you have your goals identified, you can get started on identifying actions. If you have your actions for year one ready, you might as well include them in your plan. I like how the Framingham Public Library created an “Imagine the Possibilities” list that gives them a lot of flexibility to select actions each year. I recommend including staff in action planning, because they will carry out the plan and will have many helpful ideas. You might use a tool like Google Jamboard or Padlet to gather feedback about potential actions for each goal.
Would you like to consult about developing strategic priorities/goals or anything related to strategic planning? Reach out to MLS Strategic Planning Consultants, Kristi Chadwick and me/Michelle Eberle for support. Reach out to Rob Favini (MBLC) with any questions about the MBLC approval process.
Stay tuned for next month’s blog post on Strategic Planning: Developing Your Mission and/or Vision Statement