The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

MDLP Recap: Power of Strategic Planning and Systems Thinking

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Read a student's account of our most recent session in our Management Leadership and Development program below. For more information, about MLDP, click here.

I was excited about this session, as I had often heard about systems thinking, and the importance of strategic planning for companies. I was interested in finding out how Marty Jacobs '82, President of Systems in Sync, would break down what I considered to be a difficult concept to master.                   After her introduction, Ms. Jacobs opened the session by giving us a brief overview of strategic planning. According to her, strategic planning is a dynamic and collaborative process with one's client. In order to be an effective strategic planner, one needs to think in systems; to note that change in one part of a system affects the entire system. To illustrate this concept, she divided us up into groups so as to take part in a "change exercise".  Our work involved keeping balloons in the air, as they were introduced into our system "one after the other".  One student particulary appreciated this exercise. She said it highlighted, "How we think on our feet, and how we adjust to change."
After the exercise, Ms. Jacobs emphasized mission, vision, and values as the key concepts for strategic planning. She then summarized seven steps in the strategic planning process: starting with a shared vision, assessing the current reality, engaging stakeholders, brainstorming possible goals, prioritizing goals, developing action steps, and developing and implementation and evaluation plan. Indeed, Ms. Jacobs emphasized the need to set up an evaluation plan and timeline, so as to ensure that one meets the goals set, while knowing how to improve on the system.
Finally, Ms. Jacobs reminded us that change is the only constant. Additionally, she asked us to ensure that our actions remained legal, ethical and prudent.  Strategic planning may be a messy process, but we can "get there". 
-Miriam Kilimo '14

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences