Policy Matters Blog

Strategic Planning: Are We on the Right Track?

Many state school psychology organizations spend a considerable amount of time pondering their strategic plan. Since my time as a member of the GPR committee, I have noticed several state associations, with enthusiasm and eagerness, question what constitutes a robust strategic plan to guide their work. With the current legislative momentum at the national level and across many states, state associations must have solid strategic plans. This is a great time to harness the power of possibility! Below I outline a few considerations when developing or revising a strategic plan. As always, members of the NASP GPR and other committees are available to assist you in your work!

State associations should consider gathering their community to define the current national and state advocacy needs. When appropriate, I recommend state associations’ strategic plans align with NASP’s Policy Platform. When state associations are moving in concert with NASP, it sends a strong message to both federal and state legislators. Our elected officials might be more inclined to support certain legislation. Further, state leaders should poll their members to determine the issues that need to be addressed across the state. When members feel the strategic plan addresses their needs at the local level, it can increase buy-in. Another way to identify legislative priorities is to assess the quantity and quality of new state legislation being proposed. Also, it helps to determine proposed bills the organization wants to support or oppose. 

Once state associations have identified strategic priorities, they must document their current goals and objectives. The goals must align with state advocacy and legislative priorities. It is essential to clarify the steps that will be taken to accomplish the goals and objectives. This will help to increase the success of the strategic plan. State organizations should ensure they create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timed) goals. 

Next, there needs to be a consideration of the advocacy methods used to accomplish the goals and objectives. This is a great time to identify the strengths of state leaders and members interested in supporting the goals outlined. I am an NPR fanatic, and I once listened to a segment that stressed there are many ways individuals can be engaged in advocacy. There is enough advocacy work for everyone to play a role. You would be surprised how many members know state legislators or other stakeholders. Therefore, consider all assets and resources that can be used to implement the strategic plan successfully. When assessing the organization’s capacity for advocacy, consider the following questions:

  1. Does the organization have a place in their leadership structure that supports and manages its advocacy work?
  2. Does the organization have a group of members that can quickly mobilize in support of its advocacy activities?
  3. Does the organization build and maintain relationships with individuals and organizations?
  4. Does the organization have the funds to hire either a lobbyist or a legislative consultant? If not, is there a member of the organization who is knowledgeable about the state legislative process and has the skills to effectively implement the strategy?
  5. Does the organization have a process for identifying and monitoring bills related to its advocacy priorities?

State associations should also cultivate a network of stakeholders. Consider how specific stakeholders can help the association accomplish certain goals and objectives. Many stakeholders will have a shared vision or action plan, so consider creating an ecomap of affiliations and stakeholders' influences. Establish predetermined dates to review initiatives, and get comfortable modifying your advocacy methods as needed. BE FLEXIBLE! Lastly, do not forget to celebrate your big and small accomplishments. Enjoy the peaks because they will sustain the association during the valleys. For tips to get started, please review the NASP Policy Playbook

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman.