A strategic plan is not a wish list or a to do list. It’s not a simple list of priorities. It’s not a list of tactics or actions. A strategic plan is a ‘living document’ set by a board of directors – in this case Council – to guide the strategic focus of the organization for a set period of time.

A strategic plan allows us, as the people you’ve elected to govern the City, to be proactive, future-focused, and action-ready. We start by setting a high-level strategic goal, deciding the strategic objectives we need to pursue to achieve that goal, and then determining high-level actions that we direct our staff to implement in order to achieve these objectives.

If this sounds a bit ungrounded right now, not to worry. As we determine the goal, objectives and actions we’ll share them with you before adopting the plan. We want to make sure we’re creating the kind of city you elected us to and doing it in such a way that is inclusive, bold and forward-looking.

In our last term of office, it took Mayor and Council 11 months to complete a strategic planning process. This meant that staff went nearly a year without direction from Council as to what our strategic focus and priorities would be for the term. This time, we’ve committed to completing our Strategic Plan within the first quarter of 2015. This way we can give clear direction to, and empower, our staff as early in the term as possible so we’re not wasting time.

At the beginning of the strategic planning process, I presented the following report and recommendation to Council. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­In the interests of transparency and inclusiveness, even though the first two meetings were held in closed session, Council chose to rise and report on the entire report and strategic planning agenda. I share it here in its entirety. Feel free to join us in person at City Hall or online here as we set to work creating a high-level strategic plan for our four year term.

Governance and Priorities Report, January 26th 2015
Recommendation
That Council adopt the following strategic planning process.

Summary
The objective of the strategic planning process is to end up with a concrete strategic plan that will guide the decisions of Council and the work of staff for the next four years. Once in place, Council will review the plan on a regular basis and update it according to emerging priorities and the will of Council.

In order to have a plan with concrete outcomes that reflects the will of council and the aspirations of the public, we need to do three things. First, we need everyone on council to feel good about the strategic planning process and to feel like there is room for everyone’s ideas to be considered. Second, we need to focus the discussion on concrete problems and concrete solutions. Third, we need to share the plan with the public and ask for high-level input before we adopt it.

Monday January 26th 9:00-3:00
In camera, Council, City Manager, Director Citizen Engagement and Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning Warm-Up with Tracey Lorenson
A facilitated session with Tracey Lorenson to agree on some high level principles for working together, develop a sense of what a strategic plan is and what we want it to do, and begin to discuss high-level goals.

Objectives:
a.) Stretch our ‘working together’ muscles
b.) Discuss what each person would like to get out of the strategic planning process and out of the experience of working together for the next four years
c.) Agree on some basic principles and values for working together
d.) Begin to identify themes and one high level goal that the plan can aim to achieve

Wednesday January 28th 9:00am-1:00pm
In camera, Council, City Manager, Director Citizen Engagement and Strategic Planning

Section 1 Where We Are and Where We’re Going
A facilitated discussion to flesh out the problems we’d like to solve and some agreement on the desired reality we’d like to get to.

Objective:
Come to agreement about what is wrong and where we would like to take the City, at a very high level (agree on a shared goal) in the next four years.

Section 1 – Where We Are and Where We’re Going

  1. Start by listing the top ten things that we think are wrong with the city.
  2. Distil everything that is wrong into one sentence.
  3. If our answer to number two is the current reality, then, in one sentence, what is our desired reality?

Monday February  2nd  9am–12 pm
Public

Sections 2 and 3 Big Dreams and Reality Check and Learning From Elsewhere
A facilitated discussion led to flesh out everyone’s big ideas, blue sky scenarios, as well as small things we’d like to see. This is also a structured opportunity for people to bring ideas they’re seen work well in other places.

Objectives:
a.) Begin to identify some of the really big things we’d like to accomplish in the next four years as well as some of the smaller, easier wins. These will tie into the final day of planning.

b.) Share ideas and success stories from other places and asses which, if any we might like to pilot in Victoria. These will tie into the final day of planning. 

Section 2 – Big Dreams and Reality Check

  1. If the City of Victoria had all the time and all the resources in the world what would we do? (Dream big!)
  2. If the City had little time and few resources, what would we do?

Section 3 – Learning From Elsewhere

  1. What cities in the world do you think Victoria has something to learn from?
  2. What are some concrete things we can learn from these cities?

Tuesday February 3rd 9am – 3pm
Public 

Section 4 Passions, Outcomes and Concrete Actions (Part 1)

A facilitated discussion to bring everything together into high-level concrete outcomes and actions. This will loop back to where we started in order to make sure that what the things we said were ‘wrong’ in Question 1 Section 1 are addressed by the outcomes and actions we agree to. This will be the meatiest session and this is where we will actually begin to make decisions.

Objectives:
a.) Learn more about what each Councillor is interested in working on

b.) Determine the high-level plan ‘headings’ or ‘priorities’
b.) Begin to settle on high level outcomes (deliverables) and actions 

Section 4 – Passions, Concrete Outcomes and Actions

  1. What are you passionate about working on?
  2. Now, get concrete about your passions! At the end of four years, we will have achieved these ten concrete outcomes:
    1. 
    2.
    etc.
  3. List the actions we think the City can take to achieve these outcomes.

Thursday February 5th 12pm – 4pm
Public

Section 4 Passions, Outcomes and Concrete Actions (Part 2)
A facilitated discussion to bring everything together into high-level concrete outcomes and actions. This will loop back to where we started in order to make sure that what the things we said were ‘wrong’ in Question 1 Section 1 are addressed by the outcomes and actions we agree to. This will be the meatiest session and this is where we will actually begin to make decisions.

Objectives:
a.) To clean up and tie up our work from the previous four sessions
b.) To make decisions on the high-level plan ‘headings’ or ‘priorities’
c.) To make decisions on the high level outcomes (deliverables) and actions  
d.) To direct staff to produce a draft strategic plan for input from Council and the public

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