Episode 307: Planning

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Welcome back to Season Three of Linking Our Libraries! We are the Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and we are here to share information with all types of libraries, archives, and other nonprofits working to build their skills. This season, we are working on building a toolbox of leadership skills and ideas. By the end of this season, you will have fifteen specific skills that will make you a stronger leader and manager in your organization.

This week we are looking at strategies for planning.

How do you know what is going to happen in the future? Do you have a set of magic glasses that let you know what is coming up? Probably not. At least, we don’t have any cool tools like that; and will be jealous of you if you have them. This is the essence of planning: think about what you want to happen then figure out how to make it happen.

Today we will walk through some different strategies for looking into the future and figuring out how to get there. Let’s set some goals, and then talk about different kinds of planning for different situations.

Overview of the Planning Process

When you are thinking about plans and looking toward the future, what do you do first? How do you start? Let’s walk through a process that will be helpful as you do your own planning.

Types of Plans

So now that we have a plan for planning, we are going to work through some of the different types of plans you might use in your organization. Remember the most important thing about planning: not doing it is worst decision. Letting things just happen without trying to figure out where you want to go is not the best way to operate. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes – you will, after all; just dive in and start figuring out where you want to go and how to get there.

Strategic Planning

  • Let’s start by looking at the strategic plan. This one is the long-range plan, the one that lets you look years, not weeks or months, into the future. In the past, strategic plans extended five or maybe even ten years ahead; as the pace of society changes it has become more common to consider it as more of a two to five year look into the future.

Tactical Planning

  • Next, let’s talk about Tactical plans. If you were a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan, you may remember Captain Picard snapping out orders and requests for suggestions from Worf in Tactical. His answers were always quick and to the point, and did not get hung up in the big picture.
    • You don’t have to always want to shoot bad space guys, it is just a way of thinking about this planning style!

Project Planning

  • Related to Tactical planning is the Project plan. In most libraries, this will be the type of planning carried out by most people and discussed most frequently. Think about your summer reading program: making it happen is a Project plan.

Disaster Planning

  • Disasters are not an “if” situation – they are a “when.” You will have disasters. Disasters are scary, they cost money, they cost a lot of time you could be spending on programming and materials selection, they give you bad publicity – they are just all-around problems. Disaster planning will let you get ready so you can minimize the problems disasters cause.


Remember that a plan is a living document. Things will change, they will develop over time. Sometimes those changes will be great and you will be thrilled that wonderful bonus things happened for your organization. Sometimes, those changes will feel like they involve taking pieces of your heart out and stomping on them. Celebrate the first, learn to shake off the second – you just keep developing the plan until you are done.

Thanks to everyone for joining us this week! And check back in with us next week to discuss our next topic: Budgeting.

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