Strategic Planning In Education: A Study Of Intermediate Agencies
Hoffman, Thomas A.
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The problem: The problem of this study was to identify and analyze key factors which influence strategic planning processes in three Iowa area education agencies. Procedures: Through interviews in the three Iowa area education agencies with the most established strategic plans, selected staff and board members who had been involved in their agencies' strategic planning process which included: the role of leadership; the necessary planning and organizational governance structures; the level of resource commitment; and, other factors deemed important. Findings: The findings of this study included the need for: leadership and commitment from chief administrative officer and many agency staff; planning structures which incorporated continuity between initial planning and implementation; financial and human resources; tangible results, though the process itself proved more important than any of the products; and, communication about the strategic planning process and plans since a limmited number of staff were actually involved. These factors proved to be highly interactive, frequently blurring one with the other and all interdependent. Conclusions: 1. Strategic planning was the mechanism of choice in an effort to bring focus and coherence to the area education agencies. 2. Top leadership is crucial to the initiation and sustainability of strategic planning. 3. Action planning and implementation received short shrift in the strategic planning process. 4. Resources for strategic planning are difficult to attribute and even more difficult to account for in their consequences. 5. Talk matters; though there were tangible results, the end product resulting from strategic planning was often intangible. 6. Don't ask if you don't want to hear the answer. 7. You don't know what you don't know until you know. Recommendations: Additional research could be done to measure the success of strategic planning, to identify the role and results of staff and stakeholder participation, to identify or determine the facilitator skills most likely to produce quality strategic plans, and to compare the formal strategic planning process with the informal process.