This page provides basic information about strategic planning for local governments in Washington State, including examples of local strategic plans, vision statements, and mission statements.
What Is Strategic Planning?
Strategic planning is the process by which leaders of an organization, such as a local government, determine what it intends to be in the future and how it will get there. It involves developing a vision for the organization's future and determining the necessary goals, priorities, and action strategies to achieve that vision.
As Yogi Berra would say:
"If you don't know where you are going - you might end up someplace else."
A strategic plan serves as a community's roadmap and is used to prioritize initiatives, resources, goals, and department operations and projects. The strategic plan is a big-picture document directing efforts and resources toward a clearly defined vision.
Community visioning is the process of developing consensus about what future the community wants, and then deciding what is necessary to achieve it. A vision statement captures what community members most value about their community, and the shared image of what they want their community to become. It inspires community members to work together to achieve the vision.
A thoughtful vision statement is one of the elements needed to form a forward looking strategic framework that gives councils or boards the long-term-comprehensive perspective necessary to make rational and disciplined tactical/incremental decisions on community issues as they arise. Community vision statements are typically crafted through a collaborative process that involves a wide variety of community residents, stakeholders and elected officials.
Mission statements are directly connected to vision statements. While a vision statement describes the desired future state of the organization, the mission statement describes how that vision will be achieved. Ideally, mission and vision statements are crafted through a collaborative process that involves a wide array of community stakeholders and elected officials, usually as part of an overall strategic plan.
A well-crafted mission statement should capture in a short, concise paragraph the purpose of the organization's existence and what actions it takes to fulfill this purpose.
Examples of Strategic Plans
Below are a few examples of strategic plans adopted by local governments in Washington State.
- Camas Strategic Plan 2018-2020
- Issaquah Citywide Strategic Plan webpage – Allows viewers to access parts of the plan via related webpages or download the entire document
- Richland 2018 Strategic Leadership Plan
- Shoreline City Council Goals and Workplan, 2022-2024
- Snohomish Strategic Plan 2014-2018
- Spokane Strategic Plan webpage – Allows viewers to access measures/goals built into the 6-year strategic plan, including a 1-page summary
- Tacoma 2025 Strategic Plan
Special Purpose Districts
- Franklin Public Utility District Excellence in Governance & Strategic Plan
- Lakehaven Utility District Water System Plan Update 2016 – Water-sewer district
- Olympic Medical Center Strategic Plan 2021-2024
- Port of Vancouver 2018 Strategic Plan
- South King Fire & Rescue Strategic Leadership Plan 2017-2021
Examples of Vision and/or Mission Statements
Below are a few examples of mission statements and/or vision statements adopted by local governments in Washington State.
- Bothell Road Map 2017-2018 – Includes vision, strategies, values, and city council goals
- Lakewood Resolution No. 2015-30 (2015) – Adopting vision statement
- Pullman City Council Mission
- Renton Business Plan – Includes vision, mission, and goals
- Seattle City Clerk Vision, Mission, and Values – Specific to clerk's office
- Shoreline Vision 2029
- Snoqualmie Fire Department Mission & Goals
- Stanwood Public Works Mission Statement – Specific to public works department
- Tacoma The Principles that Guide Us – Includes vision and mission statements
- Walla Walla Statement of Mission, Vision & Values
- Clallam County Mission Statement and Statement of Values
- Spokane County 2018 Strategic Framework – One-page overview connecting mission to core values, objectives, and vision
Special Purpose Districts
- Lacey Fire District No. 3 Mission, Vision & Values
- Port of Kalama What is Our Mission?
- Woodinville Water District Mission Statement
Below are some resources that local governments can use to help develop their strategic planning processes, visions, and mission statements.
- Balanced Scorecard Institute: Is There Any Strategy In Your Strategic Plan? (2008)
- Boston Consulting Group: Four Steps to High Impact Strategic Planning in Government (2018)
- Center for Rural Pennsylvania: Planning for the Future: A Handbook on Community Visioning (2006) – Well-organized guide outlines a suggested process, elements of success, and lessons learned. Also provides sample workshop agendas, announcements, checklists and other materials.
- Community Tool Box: Chapter 8: Developing a Strategic Plan – Part of the "Community Tool Box" provided by the University of Kansas Center for Community Health and Development
- Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA): Building a Financially Resilient Government through Long-Term Financial Planning (2011)
- International City/County Management Association (ICMA): Strategic Planning – Collection of articles and resources related to strategic planning
- Strategic Planning for Local Government – For-purchase ICMA publication
- Maine State Planning Office: Community Visioning Handbook: How to Imagine - and Create - a Better Future (2003) – Particularly thoughtful visioning guide. Nice explanation of "why vision?" useful "how to" steps and public workshop instructions, tips and exercises.
- Mosaica: Strategic Planning: A Ten-Step Guide (2001) – Useful general guide to strategic planning for all types of organizations.
- National Civic League: Community Visioning and Strategic Planning Handbook (2000) – Still useful guide lays out the framework of the successful community planning processes used by the National Civic League and others across the country