Step 5: Prioritize, Strategize & Plan Next Steps (Strategic Planning Meeting 3)

Step 5: Prioritize, Strategize & Plan Next Steps (Strategic Planning Meeting 3)

Your third strategic planning meeting should focus on prioritizing objectives, strategizing, and planning for next steps. One of the pitfalls of doing a strategic plan is being overwhelmed by having too many things that you’d like to accomplish, and goals that are so broad that they seem almost impossible to achieve (e.g., “All children happy and healthy”). This is where it is important to prioritize the things that the group has discussed. You may want to keep a list of goals or objectives that are not prioritized, so these ideas can be revisited as you begin to accomplish what you prioritize in your plan. Identifying the priority goals and objectives can be done in a variety of ways. Your group may be able to discuss and quickly come to consensus if there are a few things that emerge as clear priorities from the needs assessment process. If your group generates a lengthy laundry list however, you may want to use a more formal process, such as giving each group member 3-5 colored stickers to use to identify his or her top priorities. Those items that receive the most “sticker votes” can then be incorporated into the strategic plan.

If your group has identified a single goal for child, family, and staff wellness, you may want to have some objectives within each of these goal areas as part of your strategic plan to ensure a holistic approach.

Begin to identify strategies for achieving your goals and objectives. Strategies are what you are going to need to do in order to accomplish objectives — they are the “how” part of the plan. Sometimes these are called “activities”. For each objective, ask the group, “what do we need to do to accomplish this?”. For your mental health strategic plan, strategies may include things that mental health consultants can do (e.g., visits classrooms on a monthly basis to provide coaching to teachers), things that program staff can do (e.g., learn specific techniques for redirecting children’s behavior), things that community partners can do (e.g, establish inter-agency referral agreements), and things that require the program director or leadership to do (e.g., change policy or procedure).

Along with the identified strategies, make the strategic plan actionable by indicating who will be responsible for each strategy, and establish a timeline for when the task should be accomplished. It is likely that your plan will include some strategies that can be implemented almost immediately; others may take more time to accomplish. Be realistic in setting your timelines, given the other things that your staff may have to do. Make sure everyone is clear about what s/he is committing to and when they are expected to finish it. If you strategies are effective, you should begin to incorporate them into your program policies and procedures.

Click here to download an example mental health strategic plan.

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This product was developed [in part] under grant number 1H79SM082070-01 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.