Strategic planning is like worrying

We had a lot to read this week, but each article (or blog) was short, to the point, and was on the same subject. Matthew R. Fairholm’s article ‘Leadership and Organizational Strategy’ outlines approaches to strategic planning in a hilariously frenetic increase in question words (I was waiting for How-Why-What-Who-and Where?-Where will we hold this meeting now that L303 is booked) but what I took away from it was the concept of strategic thinking and the organisational philosopher. I’ve attended a few Strategic Planning sessions over the years and I recognised the need for a focus on creating or unifying values for the collective staff. In my mind, strategic planning is one of many products of strategic thinking.

Of the two blog posts I found the L.S.P.P. Overview entry went in one ear and came out the other as ‘PLAN, CHANGE IS COMING SO PLAN’. However, the L.S.P.P. Management entry was a lot more helpful, especially the definition of strategic management and all it’s duties, which I would say sums up a job definition for a typical head librarian.

Two seconds into Mott’s piece I stumbled over the clause, “to logically decide” (Mott, 20) and winced. However, I brightened up when I realised it was describing how to avoid a strategic planning meeting and still come up with a strategic plan. Strategic planning meetings take aaallll day, and yes, you usually get fed, but all work ceases and you have to find someone to man/woman the circulation desk in the meantime. I particularly like what I’ve dubbed Mott’s ‘throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks’ angle; plan when you have most of your information, experiment, and try strategy on like you would different styles of jeans.

Many of these articles hint at a growing trend of Not planning, which I found best outlined by an article in the Wall Street Journal by J.S. Lublin and D. Mattioli called ‘Strategic plans lose favor’, which you can find in print at UCD, online at UCD, or read for free here. That being said, having a strategic plan has some benefits; for example, it may be needed for funding and it provides accountability. Also, it means that when money does suddenly appear, there is a plan in place to take advantage of it. I’m thinking in particular of plans for renovations which are waiting for money in the budget to move ahead.


Lublin, J. S., & Mattioli, D. (2010, Jan 25). Theory & practice: Strategic plans lose favor — slump showed bosses value of flexibility, quick decisions. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from

Matthews, Steve. (April 14, 2011). 21st Century Library Strategic Planning Overview. [blog post]. Retrieved from

Matthews, Steve. (January 31, 2012). 21st Century Library Strategic Management. [blog post]. Retrieved from

Mott, L. (2008). Planning strategically and strategic planning. [DOI: 10.1108/08880450810875738].


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