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"New Year, New You" (but how do we get there?)

Speed Your Organization’s Path to Goals with Strategic Planning

Guest post by Christina Ragsdale, MA, APR – Big Sky Public Relations Consultant

Fresh into the new year, our friend and consultant, Christina Ragsdale, shares a few thoughts about the importance of taking time to plan in 2019.

What is Strategic Planning?

This may be a term you’ve heard bandied about, but do you really know what it means and if it’s a valuable tool for you? Simply, it’s a systematic process for an organization to decide what its current situation is, assess its environment, strengths and weaknesses, and outline a strategy including steps, resources and responsibilities to pursue the strategy through a series of measurable goals.

What are the Benefits?

Imagine you and your family or friends want to plan a trip. First, you need to agree on a destination. Second, how will you travel; car, airplane, train? Third, what route will you take? Where will you stay? What is your budget? What do you need to take with you, etc. There are a number of steps you need to accomplish before you can set out. Now imagine your organization as embarking on a trip almost every day. Do you – and your entire organization – agree on your destination? Does everyone know how you will get there? What is your budget, etc. In most organizations, you will get very different answers to these questions depending on who you ask. You can even have individuals and departments working against each other!

Now imagine the efficiency you will gain – and the success you can achieve – when your goals are clearly in view and everyone in your organization understands their role in achieving them. This is what strategic planning can do for you.

How can I get started?

Gathering data and working with an experienced and objective third party are the first steps. Knowing where you are starting from, including all your organization's “vital statistics” is key. You can’t determine how to get where you want to go if you don’t know where you are or what you resources are at hand.

Next, secure commitment throughout the organization, especially from the leadership, to follow-through on implementation in the over the duration of the plan. This means you will be evaluating and updating the plan through multiple organizational cycles over years, not weeks or months. Like all positive habits, it takes time for this process to work, although some benefits may be seen quickly. A long-term view and consistency with strategic planning will ensure your organization gets where it needs to go, short-term and long.


Christina Ragsdale, MA, APR, is a communications and public relations consultant who has successfully built and reorganized communication departments and systems in large organizations. Along with typical public relations services, she can successfully guide your organization through a strategic planning process and ongoing implementation. View her profile on LinkedIn or contact her at 916-320-1177.

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