Strategic plan - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Strategic plan

The strategic plan defines a community health board’s roles, priorities, and direction over three to five years. It determines what the organization plans to achieve, how the organization will achieve it, and how the organization will know what has been achieved. The strategic plan guides decision-making on allocating resources and pursuing strategies and priorities. The community health board’s strategic plan focuses on the entire community health board (Source: PHAB Standard 5.3 [PDF]).

MDH assistance
1. Organize
2. Assess
3. Hold facilitated planning session
4. Develop action plan
Review checklist
5. Implement, monitor, evaluate
National accreditation standards related to the strategic plan
More information



The strategic plan guides and strengthens a community health board’s ability to carry out its public health functions. It provides community health boards with a guide for making decisions; allocating human and financial resources; and pursuing time-bound, measurable strategies and priorities. The plan is internal to the organization, and informed by priorities noted during the organizational assessment and the community health assessment. Strategic planning also allows agency staff the opportunity to contribute to their community health board’s vision and goals.

Minnesota community health boards have identified further benefits of strategic planning:

  • Engaging staff and stakeholders in envisioning the future of the department
  • Raising the profile of public health within a larger organization
  • Attending to important long-term issues
  • Identifying strengths
  • Refocusing on the philosophy of public health

National public health accreditation standards note that the strategic plan and community health improvement plan are related to and should connect with each other.

All community health boards are encouraged to develop a strategic plan that meets national public health standards.


MDH assistance

MDH has designed all assessment and planning guidance to help community health boards meet national public health standards developed by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB).

Public health system consultants and staff from the MDH Center for Public Health Practice can help with parts of strategic planning, including facilitating the planning process to determine your community health board’s vision and goals. MDH staff can also support you as you prepare for the facilitated planning session and complete the plan.

You can also facilitate your own strategic planning process internally or use other consultants to assist.

To find your community health board’s public health system consultant, visit: Who is my public health system consultant?

To contact MDH, visit: Help and technical assistance.


1. Organize

1a. Recruit a team

Generally, a team of 6-12 people participate in a strategic planning process. The planning team should include community health board leadership and staff. Consider including:

  • CHS administrator/director
  • Public health department directors
  • Public health supervisor(s)
  • Community health board members
  • County board members
  • Key public health staff
  • Health and human services representatives
  • Information technology specialists
  • Others with relevant expertise and knowledge about the community health board’s function

A strategic planning process may also engage a broader group of stakeholders to review and comment on the plan as it is developed.

1b. Set meetings

Set meeting dates, times, and locations.

1c. Identify stakeholders

Use the Stakeholder Identification Tool to list people and groups who may be interested in your planning process or have a stake in the outcome.

Download ►Stakeholder identification tool (DOC)

If you have identified stakeholders who are not a part of your strategic planning team, you might consider including them. Also consider:

  • Community organizations
  • Local health care providers and hospitals
  • Elected officials
  • All public health staff
  • Other: __________

Determine a party responsible for updating the stakeholder identification tool, and the frequency with which it should be updated.

1d. Develop communications

Good communication is essential to keep your assessment and planning process on track and your planning team and partnership engaged. Use a communications plan to help determine the needs of all those involved. Consider:

  • Who needs to know about your plan and planning process?
  • What information do they need?
  • How can you best communicate with them?
  • How often do you need to communicate with them?

Download ►Communications plan (DOC)

Delegate a party responsible for maintaining the communications plan, and how often they should report back to the team.

1e. Collect documents and information

Collect documents and information that will give your plan context, such as:


2. Assess

To prepare for planning, a small group of staff can review the documents and information above, to refine an assessment of the current conditions the organization faces. Consider:

  • What are the organization’s strengths and accomplishments?
  • What are the organization’s weaknesses and external challenges?
  • What are the organization’s current opportunities?

Download ►Summary of reports and key trends (DOC)


3. Hold facilitated planning session

Staff from the MDH Center for Public Health Practice are trained and available to help facilitate the strategic vision and goals section of your planning process. MDH staff can also support you as you prepare for the facilitated planning session and complete the plan.

Your department can also contract with an external organization to facilitate planning, or lead your process internally.

For further assistance, consider visiting: NACCHO: Developing a local health department strategic plan.

Facilitated planning session overview

The facilitated planning session walks local public health leadership through a systematic process to determine the strategic plan components described below.

Strategic plan overview

Mission statement: Describes the organization’s unique purpose (what it does, whom it serves, realm in which it operates).

Guiding principles/values: Describes how work is performed and common beliefs that serve as a basis for the organization’s work.

Vision: A succinct, compelling statement of a desired and possible future that the organization wants to achieve; it explains why the organization does what it does, and encompasses the strategic priorities listed below.

Vision elements (nouns): What do you hope to see in place in the next three to five years? What will be different in that period as a result of the organization’s work?

Example vision elements from other community health boards, developed during strategic planning:

  • Improved community health outcomes
  • Strong relationships with stakeholders
  • Dynamic organization, engaged with the community
  • Sufficient staffing to support mission and vision
  • High-quality organization

Strategies (verbs): What needs to happen in the next one to two years to make the vision a reality?

Example vision elements from other community health boards, developed during strategic planning:

  • Strengthen relationships with stakeholders
  • Engage board members in public health
  • Assess personnel needs and capacity to perform work
  • Identify optimal ways to perform public health work

Strategic priorities: Generally three to five top strategic priorities, which are of importance and are within the community health board’s capacity to act upon.

Goals (specific to a strategy): Goals are general statements expressing a program's aspirations or intended effect on one or more health problems, often stated without time limits (Source: Turnock, B.J. Public Health: What It Is and How It Works. 4th ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett; 2009). Your community health board will perform work toward goals later. (Source: Public Health Accreditation Board Acronyms and Glossary of Terms (PDF)).

Objectives (specific to a strategy): Measurable, time-specific products or results; your community health board will perform work toward objectives later.


4. Develop action plan

Once you develop a strategic vision and strategies to reach that vision, you will develop work plans to implement those strategies.

The tools below are designed to help you develop action plans, which can be compiled into a final work plan.

Download ►Action planning worksheet (DOC), Work plan summary (DOC)

Review checklist

Use the MDH strategic plan review checklist, based on national public health accreditation standards and other national resources, to ensure your strategic plan is complete.

MDH recommends that community health boards consult Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) national standards as a point of reference when engaging in assessment and planning, whether or not they are seeking accreditation. The national standards serve as a guide to demonstrate accountability to stakeholders, improve quality of work, enhance credibility, and increase staff morale. You should note, however, that fulfilling MDH Assessment and Planning requirements does not guarantee meeting PHAB national standards for the purposes of accreditation.

Download ►Strategic plan review checklist (DOC)


5. Implement, monitor, evaluate

After you complete the strategic plan, begin to implement it. Continue to monitor progress, and report progress to the community.

As you monitor and revise the strategic plan, adjust it to meet your goals. Be sure to share lessons learned, and celebrate success.


National accreditation standards related to the strategic plan

5.3.1. Department strategic planning process.

Related documentation:

  • Use a strategic planning process to develop the organization’s strategic plan: Membership of the strategic planning group, strategic planning process steps

5.3.2. Adopted department strategic plan.

Related documentation:

  • Health department strategic plan that includes: Mission, vision, guiding principles/values; strategic priorities; goals and objectives with measurable and time-framed targets; consideration of key support functions required for efficiency and effectiveness; identification of external trends, events, or factors that may impact community health or the health department; assessment of health department strengths and weaknesses; link to the health improvement plan and quality improvement plan

5.3.3. Implemented department strategic plan.

Related documentation:

  • Reports showing progress towards achievement of the goals and objectives contained in the plan


Examples of strategic plans


More information