As a fundamental institutional process, strategic planning designates organizational culture within an educational setting. It cultivates values, goals, and directions to withstand the effects of complex socio-cultural challenges and changes. Strategic planning, therefore, inspires organizational culture by encouraging collective decision-making, cooperating with both internal and external stakeholders, and understanding the needs and concerns of everyone involved. One small internal group would hardly manage such a complex task. Therefore, strategic planning turns educational institutions into close-knit and highly efficient environments capable of influencing external environment (communities, society) positively.
Many often confuse strategic planning with a traditional long-range planning. However, these approaches are different. As opposed to traditional long-range planning, strategic planning is rather sensitive to the external environment, whereas traditionally long-range planning ultimately focuses on its internal organization. Thus, traditional planning is not broad in its range and does not target future perspectives of institutional functioning and development. It assumes minimum involvement of stakeholders subject to an internal plan only. Conversely, strategic planning considers the needs and expectations of both internal and external stakeholders. Overall, traditional long-range planning makes educational institution solely concentrates on present day-to-day needs, remains almost intact, follows linear extension, and opposes any changes capable of reshaping an organizational future. In its turn, strategic planning encourages educational institutions to shift their direction, refocus their global mission, and accept changes with the most possible benefit. While traditional planning focuses on sustaining the status quo, it does not inspire visioning after all. On the other hand, strategic plans circulate around a vision of success or wanted changes in the future. According to Bryson (1988), traditional long-range planning specifies goals and objectives, whereas strategic planning focuses on identification and solving critical issues. Thus, the status and the future development of an educational institution is the highest priority for strategic planning. The approach emphasizes operational excellence and long-term vitality of an educational institution. In other words, strategic planning cares about institutional survival most.
Given the benefits and advantages of strategic planning over traditional planning, I would emphasize on its global visionary components while managing educational institution. This is because an organization cannot sustain the status quo forever and should be open for changes and prospects of future advancement. Meanwhile, I also realize the downturns of a strategic planning. As an educational administrator, I should consider extra time and physical resources required to maintain a strategic planning process. While strategic planning efforts are often risky, tiresome and exhaustive to internal stakeholders, many educational institutions still prefer traditional planning not to lose momentum (Jurinski, 1993).
Bryson, J. (1988). Strategic planning for public and nonprofit organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc.
Jurinski, J. (1993). Strategic planning. Saranac Lake, NY: American Management Association.
Simmons & Pohl. (1994). Leveraging areas for strategic planning in a university setting. Unpublished manuscript, Office of Quality Improvement, University of Wisconsin- Madison.