10 Signs It’s Time for a New Strategic Plan

10 Signs for a new Strategic Plan Blog, Library Strategies Consulting Group, Library Consulting

How do you know it is time for a new strategic plan? Well – duh – the obvious answer is that your old plan is coming to an end, and you need a new plan. But what if your library, Friends or foundation has never done a plan, or you’ve accomplished everything in your current plan, or your current plan no longer matches your library’s needs?

Strategic plans should emphasize big directions, not annual, implementation tactics.  Effective strategic plans provide overall direction and vision for the board and library administration, and should stay at the “30,000 foot” level. Strategic plans today, to remain relevant, usually are only 3 to 5 years in duration. While often intertwined with strategic plans, implementation plans typically are more staff oriented and focus heavily on annual activities.

So how do you know it is time for a “big picture” strategic planning process? Here are some signs that its time for a new strategic plan and community planning process:

  1. The current vision/mission are out-of-date or need refreshing
  2. You project that your library will undergo a major initiative, such as a building campaign, in the next 10 years
  3. Library usage is declining, or you suspect that the library is becoming less relevant in serving the community
  4. The community lacks awareness of current library services, or there are significant community needs that the library could meet or fulfill
  5. There is a significant challenge or opportunity ahead for the library – on any front
  6. The library has a new director, or has seen major changes in leadership on its board(s)
  7. Your library needs to increase its funding, on the public and/or the private side
  8. New community support and partnerships need to be developed for the library
  9. There have been major demographic or economic changes in your community in recent years
  10. The library lacks “energy”: the library board(s) and/or staff are just doing the usual routine and are not inspired about the future of the library

Good strategic planning processes do not result in a static document that gathers dust on a bookshelf. Effective strategic plans provide exciting visions, create game plans for solving problems, and energize library and community stakeholders. The plan and process should be tailored to the library and community and address issues and concerns specifically identified by the library and community.

An outside facilitator, such as the experienced consultants at Library Strategies, can greatly increase the probability of a successful planning process. The facilitator guides the process with end goals in mind, and ensures that the resulting plan is useful and doable. Throughout planning, an outside facilitator can bring experience and expertise to bear in helping the library (or Friends/foundation) see a new vision or direction, or develop creative solutions to challenges or problems.


We have developed a new and innovative way to do strategic planning called Rapid Results Planning® (RRP). Our process is quicker and costs significantly less than traditional processes. RRP is a focused, energetic, and synergistic planning process driven by community stakeholders. The result is a visionary, actionable strategic plan created by individuals who know your community best – and an operational plan drafted by library staff. Click here to learn more.