The “We Make Workplans for Our Workplans” Edition

Production Tool Ref #12

Here at Library Strategies, we’re always happy to help, so you’re never entirely without someone to go to in pursuit of answers to your implementation questions. However, there will be a time, following all the work we’ve done together, that you will need to rely on the brilliant minds in your own library. That is to say, the consultants will leave, and you will have the plans developed through all those hours of community engagement, staff brainstorming, and consultant synthesizing.  

We’re always saying that a strategic plan should be a living document, but the document itself does nothing. It is the work you do after the consultants leave that lives, and there are many ways to go about making sure the document really becomes the throughline of the work you want it to be.  

I’m going to come at this from the perspective of someone who works in a very spreadsheet-fond environment and try to walk through what has been working for The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library as we put life into our own strategic plan.  

Each “area” within our organization keeps a personal mission/value statement that is then broken out into smaller, more precise actions. These actions receive an “objective.” The objective is the bit that can change from year to year, or even quarter to quarter. For example, if the action/goal is “Create and deliver programs and services grounded in expertise and intentionally welcoming hospitality,” our way forward is something incredibly specific: “Create a hybrid model of virtual and in-person programming and modes of service delivery.”  

What follows that statement of purpose is a column dedicated to “status.” This, we color code by “in progress, complete, or not-yet.” This results in a spreadsheet that looks like a traffic light. We check in quarterly on how we think we’re doing and adjust, as needed. You absolutely might find that you move something from yellow to red as situations change.  

Case-in-point: As The Friends organization is undergoing careful examination of our policies, procedures, workplans, goals, everything for intersection with our stated goal of centering of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, we have gone back to our strategic plan mission and vision and dug into what the words in our goal statements mean when filtered through each piece of the DEI lens. How does “intentionally welcoming” enhance inclusion? Who does in-person programming serve? Who does virtual programming serve? Is the idea of “expertise” exclusionary? The act of closely reading what we had stated has been beneficial to us in naming what our actions really need to be.  

The meetings you have around your work plan are not just checked boxes, but a real look at how you can better serve your own mission and values by re-evaluating what you set out to do. It’s the part that only the people on the ground in your organization really understand from the inside out. The grand plan offers you continued excitement and something to strive for, but those daily details are where it really lives.  

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