Strategic planning is a process for defining and determining an organization’s roles, priorities, and direction over three to five years. A strategic plan sets forth what an organization plans to achieve, how it will achieve it, and how it will know if it has achieved it. The strategic plan provides a guide for making decisions on allocating resources and on taking action to pursue strategies and priorities. A health department’s strategic plan focuses on the entire health department. (Source: Public Health Accreditation Board Standards and Measures Version 1.0, Standard 5.3, p. 134)
The development and implementation of an organization’s strategic plan is now a national standard for all public health departments. As part of Minnesota’s Local Public Health Assessment and Planning Process, every community health board submitted to MDH a strategic plan in March 2015. While new to many of Minnesota’s CHBs, strategic planning is a common practice among health care, financial and community organizations.
An organizational strategic plan sets a course for strengthening a CHB to effectively carry out its public health functions. For administrators and oversight bodies, a strategic plan provides a guide to allocate financial and human resources and creates a set of measurable and time framed targets so that progress can be tracked. For public health staff, a strategic plan offers opportunities to contribute to their CHB’s efforts to strengthen public health practice.
Other benefits of strategic planning identified by Minnesota’s local public health departments include: engaging staff and stakeholders in setting a department’s future; raising the profile of public health within a larger organizational context; attending to important long term issues; identifying strengths; and refocusing on public health philosophy.
Generally a team of 6-12 people participate in a strategic planning process. Members of the planning team should include leadership and staff of a CHB. Other possible participants could include health and human services representatives, information technology specialists, and others with relevant expertise and with knowledge about the functioning of the organization. A strategic planning process may also engage a broader group of stakeholders to review and comment on the plan as it is developed.
MDH Support for Process
Staff from the MDH Public Health Practice Section have been trained and are available to facilitate the strategic vision and goals section of the planning process for CHBs and tribal public health departments. Support to prepare for the facilitated session and to complete the plan will also be provided. This process can also be facilitated internally or by other consultants.
A strategic planning process overview, tools, templates, and other supporting materials are available online. All guidance has been designed to help CHBs meet the national public health standards develop by PHAB.