Thursday, January 28, 2010
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Mayor hosts economic summit, round 2

Part 4: Developing strategic plans

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[January 28, 2010]  Dolan Dalpoas, president and CEO of Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital, was the second speaker on Saturday at the Economic Summit -- Round Two. His objective was to walk through the process of creating a strategic plan.

InsuranceStrategic plans are most often talked about, sometimes actually written and often neglected after completion.

Although Dalpoas tempered it with humor, he did warn that a strategic plan would do no good whatsoever if, once written, it is delegated to a shelf to gather dust.

"Strategic planning comes down to four basic questions," Dalpoas said. "It comes down to: Where are you now? Where do you want to go; where are you going to be in five years? How are you going to get there? How will you know when you get there?"


Strategic planning is a tool that any group of people can use to proactively plan their future. It is a systematic process of envisioning a desired future and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them.

Dalpoas said there are also a few things that a strategic plan is not. It is not a one-shot deal; once the initial plan is developed, it will continually evolve. It is not a box of tricks or a quick fix to all our problems. And, it is not something to do and leave sitting on a shelf.

A good plan, used properly, will offer innovative ways to achieve its goals, will decrease time invested in crisis management, will give continuity in changing times and changing leadership, will use resources effectively, will anticipate issues, and will create a commitment to common goals.

Dalpoas said that designing this plan is not going to be easy; it is hard work.

In addition he said that there are some factors that will cause it to fail: a lack of leadership, a lack of commitment and an attitude that "nothing helps, and nothing ever changes."

He asked the group: Do we want to do this?

David Schonauer spoke up, saying; "I think everyone, all government, is pretty well in the same boat. We don't have the money and resources to carry out a process. I think there are probably a lot of things we'd like to see done, but the money and resources just aren't there to do it."


Earlier in his comments Dalpoas had referred to the "players" as the ones who would be responsible for building the strategic plan.

Andi Hake of the chamber asked who those players might be, and Patrick Doolin of Integrity Data offered his opinions on the subject.

"Excluding current administration, of course, there has been a lack of ability to strategically think in this municipal leadership," he said.

Doolin continued: "The question I asked Jack Schultz years ago when he was here was, 'Whose responsibility is that? Is it the municipal leadership or is it the people: the residents and businessmen?'"

He said that Schultz answered, "The responsibility lies in the community with the support of the municipal leadership."

Doolin said: "So therefore when we talk about the players, I think there has been this mindset of 'We'll sit back and wait for the city to tell us where we're going and what we're doing.' There are problems with that: One, we haven't had that happen, but also the city is constrained, being a municipal organization, in how they can go about initiating change."

He concluded, "Therefore, I feel the players really are this room."

Dalpoas asked if there were any huge obstacles facing the group that would make them say, "No, it's too big, too hopeless."

Chris Ilam of Main Street Lincoln said that perhaps there would be a poor relationship among the players. "I think at our last summit we recognized that we had lots of players in different organizations that may be doing some of the same things, but they are not connected," he said. "The relationships are broken."

Crystal Alley, representing herself, added that this is seen a lot in the school system. "Everybody will come to the table to talk about it and say they want to be part of the solution, fix it and make it better," she said.

"But really the people who show up first are the ones defending their territory," she continued. "They are trying to protect what they have because they are resistant to change. Then you have a few that will try to carry on and pose a solution to the problem, but it will come with great resistance."

Dalpoas said that another part of starting a strategic plan is gaining commitment and involving all those affected by the plan.

He noted three beginning key factors: Gain commitment through involving others in the plan; outline the process of who's going to do what, how it fits in with the overall architecture; and spend time with all levels of the group.

He concluded: "This is hard work, it isn't easy. This is very hard work to move an organization forward, but you've got to spend time laying a foundation of commitment; otherwise, it will unravel in the end."

"Strategic planning is worthless unless you have a strategic vision." Dalpoas read aloud this quote from John Nesbitt, who he said is an accomplished strategist.

"Visioning: What do we want to become?" He commented further: "Visioning allows the planning team to decide how they want the organization to be perceived in the future. The team will explore what they want to look like in five years."

He concluded: "So a vision statement is an action statement that outlines the future."

He offered a slide in his PowerPoint presentation showing the vision statements of two towns that have posted theirs on the Internet.

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One of those was the following from Sunset, Utah:

Sunset City will be a community where every person and every family is important and respected. We will give the community a stable, safe, healthy, caring and friendly neighborhood. We will protect our natural environment and promote cultural, social, economic and recreational opportunities that encourage present and future generations to choose Sunset as their home. The City will give particular emphasis to protecting and enhancing beautification of the City, promoting the local economy, supporting the range of educational opportunities, promoting housing property values, maintaining an effective infrastructure, enhancing leisure activities and encouraging voluntary and community activities. We believe that our commitment is the foundation of all our endeavors to make our community a better place now and for future generations.


He said that the vision statement was action-oriented and a framework for the city's strategic plan.

"So, what is the vision for Lincoln?" Dalpoas said. "I did my eighth-grade Google search, and I didn't find a vision statement for Lincoln, Ill."

Using strategic planning, before the community can move forward, they need to know what they are working toward, and that is done through the vision statement.

Gary Davis spoke up, drawing from the earlier discussion of the book "Caught in the Middle," and said that the group could start building their vision statement by going back to their "good news" list and prioritizing and magnifying those things, then adding to it from there.

Hake expanded on that by saying that in addition, as the vision statement is written, the group should also look at the "bad news" from the earlier discussion and focus on how to turn that around.

Once a clear vision is established, then the team can start looking at goals. Their first question then will be: Does this fit into our vision of the future?

Dalpoas said that a good vision will assist those who look at an idea and personally oppose it, but they can still see that the idea does fit into the vision of the future, so, for the greater good, they will support it.

Dalpoas said that the group would have to do an assessment of their current situation: What percentage of Logan County's business buildings are vacant? Has the value of homes dropped in the community? Are there fewer people employed? -- just to name a few.


He said that such data should be tracked, and as the strategic plan is put into place and used, these statistics could be measuring sticks for how we are progressing.

Doolin commented that as we measure, we should measure everything possible, and Keith Ray said that there are generally accepted benchmarks for small communities that the group can work with.

Crystal Alley warned that if the group isn't careful, they can come down with "analysis paralysis." She explained that in collecting a list of measures, the group will need to be certain that what they are measuring is directly related to the final goals of the vision statement.

As an example only, she said that measuring empty buildings in the community might not be of value if growth is not a priority.

Dalpoas said that after the group confirms they want a strategic plan and have their vision in place, they need to figure out how to get to their vision. This is done through setting goals.

In setting goals, he used the acronym SMART, saying you want to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

He then said that the next step is to plan innovative approaches to accomplishing your strategy; check that the plan is consistent with the vision; and divide the proposed activities into manageable tasks, determining what will be done and who will do it.

Dalpoas used the Lincoln Developmental Center as a hypothetical example of how following all these steps would achieve a goal consistent with the vision.

To start with, know where you want to end up. The goal here would be to redevelop LDC. The tactic to achieve the goal would be to have it listed with a commercial real estate agent by the end of 2013. The leader in the effort would be the mayor. And finally, the measure would be a signed lease agreement, showing that the goal has been reached.

"Once a strategic plan is developed, it is now up to the membership to follow through," Dalpoas said. "Set priorities and establish time frames for short- and long-term goals, establish an implementation committee, and delegate tasks."

Dalpoas ended his presentation with a quote from Joel Barker: "Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with vision is making a positive difference."

Another relevant Baker quote is, "No one will thank you for taking care of the present if you have neglected the future."

The group that makes up the Economic Summit -- Mayor Keith Snyder, county board chair Terry Carlton, their board members and councilmen, Main Street Lincoln, the Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership, the chamber of commerce, tourism bureau, local businessmen, and citizens of Lincoln and Logan County -- is determined not to neglect the future of Lincoln and Logan County.

In the final segment of this series on the Economic Summit -- Round Two, the mayor addresses the group, offering some good news going on in the community, as well as his plans for future summits and some calls to action for the group.


Economic Summit Powerpoint Presentation

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Previous articles in series:
Mayor hosts economic summit, round 2

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