Strategic Planning

What Is Strategic Planning?

“A deliberative, disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and why it does it.[1] All organizations need to have a clear direction that is properly aligned with its internal processes, cultural values, and personnel management systems, and which fits well with the requirements of the constantly changing external environment.

Strategic Plans consist of Mission and Vision Statements, Values, Goals and Objectives, Strategies and Action Steps, and Performance Measures. These elements help to capture where an organization currently is, its vision for the future, and the action steps needed to get there.

The Value of Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning helps to build consensus around key issues and strategies, as well as commitment to implementing those strategies. This process can also create clearer communication of priorities within the organization and improve cooperation among the leadership team. In addition, Strategic Planning helps the organization to anticipate uncertainties to stay afloat in a constantly changing environment.

The Open Systems Model of Organizations of Strategic Planning[2]

Caltrans Strategic Planning Approach

For Caltrans, VMS uses a function-driven approach for Strategic Planning, based upon Value Analysis Techniques. The intent is to develop a deeper understanding of the current state of the organization and identify underlying strategic issues which will help the leaders of the organization craft their vision for the future. The following is a sample of tools and techniques which may be used in each stage:

Typical Strategic Planning Study Process

A VMS Caltrans Strategic Planning effort typically includes the following activities:


  • Identify Project Sponsor(s)
  • Identify workshop team
  • Develop the project charter with the project sponsor(s)
  • Hold a kick-off meeting with the workshop team to review the charter
  • Gather and analyze data (SWOT, surveys, interviews, etc.)


  • Workshop 1 (Review data, develop mission, vision, and values; identify strategic issues; identify goals)
  • Workshop 2 – (Brainstorm strategic functions, evaluate functions, distill out objectives and action steps)
  • Workshop 3 (Develop DRAFT Strategic Direction document)


  • Follow up meetings with workshop team and project sponsor(s) to review and edit DRAFT Strategic Direction document
  • Develop Final Strategic Direction document
  • Present to Management

[1] Bryson, J.M. (2011).  Strategic planning for public and nonprofit organizations (4th ed.).  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass/Wiley.

[2] Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business & Management, MSOD Program

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