Strategic Planning: 5 Tough Questions, 5 Proven Answers

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Learn how you can approach strategic planning in a truly collaborative way, with resources and exercises to help you turn good advice into action.

This resource-packed book from Academic Impressions and Pat Sanaghan (The Sanaghan Group) offers practical advice for:

  • Conducting strategic planning in a low-trust environment
    • Examples of guiding principles to ensure the process builds trust
  • Conducting strategic planning in a difficult, union environment
    • When and how to include the union leader
    • Best choices for chairing the strategic planning task force
  • What to do with a president who has way too many ideas and initiatives that he or she wants to accomplish
    • How to make sure ideas get vetted early
    • An exercise to assess the viability of new ideas
  • How to deal with a “hands-on” or “micro-managing” board who wants to be intimately involved in the planning process
    • How to set and manage board expectations early
    • Specific examples of how to manage board involvement at various stages
  • How to ensure effective implementation of the strategic plan when you don’t have a good track record of executing past plans
    • How to ensure communication and ongoing evaluation of the plan
    • The risks of the “first-year dilemma” and how to manage them

The recommendations that you’ll see in this book are largely based on a five-phase collaborative planning process that author Pat Sanaghan developed. Over the past 15 years, dozens of diverse institutions have adopted and adapted this process with great success — including DePaul University, the University of the West Indies, Eastern Illinois University, Saint Joseph’s University, Central Community College, Ohio Dominican University, Bismarck State College, Saint Mary’s University, and the University of the Virgin Islands

Bonus Resources

Included in the book:

  • Several innovative meeting designs for soliciting broad input during your planning process, with detailed instructions:
    • Pre-mortem exercise
    • Future horizon activity
    • Carousel (SWOT) planning activity
  • An “opportunity mapping” exercise to assess viability of new ideas
  • Instructions for “chews & chats” activities for sharing ideas, best practices, and feedback
  • A “planning assumptions” exercise to guide environmental scanning
  • Samples of concept papers outlining new strategic priorities for internal review


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