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Is Strategic/Operational Planning Dead - Or is Inertia Hindering its Success?

Globally, our company connects with hundreds of administrations, mainly in the local government and school district sectors. After countless discussions, calls, and correspondence, it has come to our attention that there exists a large amount of apathy toward strategic/operational planning.

I don't say it lightly, but the more involved we are with customers or prospects, it seems very few struggle to be transparent or, for that matter, aligned in all the facets of their organization. The "political might" seems to have consumed many city and county managers as well as superintendents of medium to large school districts. The power of the Council or education board has made many gun-shy to actually do anything that makes their administration accountable or be able to comprehend the long-term benefits of strategic and operational planning.

School districts are good at setting the scene and happily create their mission statements, vision, and school pillars. Fast forward to a year later, though, and we find that less than 30% of their strategic/operational goals have been assigned or completed in any form. Superintendents become despondent under the weight of countless meetings, the problematic divide between administration and school, plus a gap with Education Board wishes, and the real interpretation of "workable" budgets. It's exactly what's hitting school districts now, and we are seeing a higher than usual number of Superintendents retiring. Funny about that. We pity the new superintendents who are coming into those positions without effective and aligned planning in place. It must be a nightmare.

Too many administration heads have lost their position for no other reason than the comunication discourse with the Mayor, or Chair of the School Board. It has become the responsibility of the senior administrator to get the region out of the impending COVID revenue/funding shortfall. Those of you in the private sector can appreciate that even public sector boardrooms are no less ruthless at times.

Sometimes we wish Council elect and school boards would read books like, "Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick." (Chris Bradley) Two chapters are devoted to CEOs and senior administrators and detail why they need to apply strategic/operational principles to actually, “make a difference", not just shelter their positions. Although as it turns out, making a difference will protect your position.

Strategic/Operational Planning isn’t dead, it's just waiting for the chosen few who see its tremendous benefits and are willing to grab it by the horns and shake their administrations into action. If you are one of these leaders, create the time to see our ever-developing methodology and technology in the strategic/operational planning space. You don’t know what you can do until you do it.

 At PMH, we can take your difficult processes and turn them into positive outcomes, helping you to visualize and organize your planning and obtain the most effective results for your administration.

 We are passionate about your Cities!

Rob Reinking 
VP Global Business 

PMH Insights


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