Implementation Planning or What To Do In Case of Frogs


Pretend, with your humble author, that your library has just finished a strategic plan. You’ve got all these great ideas. Your community is engaged and excited about the future of the library. Momentum is still palpable, but what do you do with it? Strategic planning is not the “end.” (Don’t panic.) Library Strategies suggests following the planning process with implementation. Sounds like action, doesn’t it? But what is it? Where do you start? How is it different from the planning you just did?

So glad you asked. (Remember, we’re still pretending.)

Now for the nuts and bolts: Implementation planning is a process to help the team move the goals and strategies of the strategic plan into actions with responsibilities, resource allocation, and timescales. The Implementation Plan (or Work Plan, if you prefer) is a document designed by and for library staff, not a governance document for the board. The staff own (most of) the activities to move the strategic plan goals forward. A library can develop their Implementation Plan either independently as a staff team or as a phase of work with their strategic planning consultant. However, staff participation and input is key to a successful project.

While the strategic plan may cover 3-5 years, the Implementation Plan is meant to dig into a shorter time frame – the coming year. We recommend that staff select items for the implementation plan that reflect a mix of quick “wins” and portions of longer-range items from the Strategic Plan to create a balanced full year (plus or minus) of action. A goal of the Implementation Plan is to maintain the energy and commitments created during strategic planning, so you can demonstrate how the library is putting ideas to work quickly, while making early headway on longer initiatives. The Implementation Plan also allows for flexibility while staying true to the larger goals of the strategic plan.

In selecting activities for the Implementation Plan, the staff team should be realistic and specific about resources and timescales. The plan should be balanced in the distribution of work across the staff members and/or departments. Successful outcomes from the strategic plan are not secondary work for the library. These activities should be intentionally and realistically budgeted. We mean this in both the financial and staffing sense.  Allocate realistic and sufficient time in work schedules to manage the added activities and responsibilities. This is not “extra work.” It is the work. The tasks outlined in an annual implementation plan are the foundation of successfully meeting the goals in your strategic plan.  

Finally, remember to keep updating it. This Implementation Plan is even more a living document than your strategic plan. It grows and flexes as you need it to. If frogs suddenly start raining from the sky, adjust your Implantation Plan to make certain your plans for a butterfly garden can adapt accordingly. Consult the document and find creative ways to incorporate those frogs into your idea of success. You’re a library! You’ve done more with weirder. Keep your community in the loop, so they can reference the outcomes they hoped for from the strategic planning process. (Frogs or no frogs.) When Library Strategies says “we believe in building a culture of planning,” the Implementation Plan is central to that culture.

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