21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Forecast

The information in the original Post has been included in Chapter 6 – Forecast of my new book – “Crash Course in Strategic Planning

“… forecast is the next step after the mission, values, and vision statements. It comes before the goals and objectives because this step is especially significant in the 21st Century environment due to the rapid changes and highly uncertain future that influence society and all libraries.

Simply put, forecast uses the facts of the present to determine what is most likely to occur in the future. … The mission and vision statements outline and describe why the library exists and what it wants to be, but real-world factors [analyzed] in adequate detail must be introduced into the strategic plan for it to be realistic and achievable.” [Pg. 33]

(Matthews, Stephen. Matthews, Kimberly. (2013). Crash course in strategic planning. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.)

Our book is now available from Libraries Unlimited. Visit their website for more information and your book orders.

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4 responses to “21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Forecast

  1. Joe Matthews

    The problem with the approach discussed here is that the planning process will simply produce – MOTS – that’s short for More of The Same! The library will produce a plan with goals and objectives that assumes (don’t want to break that word into its three component parts) that the way the library currently provides services will be continued. A true strategic planning process will explicitly explore alternative strategies for achieving the library’s goals. Consider such radical strategies for eliminating most or all of traditional shelving and moving to face-out merchandising of the collection. Consider eliminating Dewey call numbers in favor of the bookstore BISAC standard or C3 (Customer Centered Classification developed by the Markham Public Library in Ontario, Canada. Consider eliminating reference service desks and use roving staff. Consider …
    Well, hopefully you get the idea.

  2. Impatient much? I think you’re jumping ahead in the planning process.
    I’d be very surprised at any library that is taking the strategic planning process seriously, with a firm understanding of its purpose and benefits, that does a thorough Environmental Scan with STEP Analysis and comes up with a STOP (Same Tired Old Plan). If they did, they would have to have seriously short-cut the Environmental Scan so as to make it useless, and have adopted their STO (Same Tired Old) Mission and Vision Statements to end up back with MOTS.

    I totally agree that “A true strategic planning process will explicitly explore alternative strategies…”, but that does not negate the value of a Forecast! Exploring alternative strategies enters the process at the appropriate time, NOT at the beginning. Any library that simply looks around and sees another library doing something “unique” or “the latest trend” or “cutting-edge” and decides to adopt that for themselves is NOT doing strategic planning. They are seriously short cutting the process to get to a result they think will please whomever – patrons, staff, trustees????
    (I also seriously question that eliminating Dewey rises to the level of a “strategy”. It seems more appropriately an Objective to accomplish a Goal, to accomplish …, etc.)

    If the library believes that eliminating Dewey will accomplish its Mission and Vision in light of its Forecast, then that is what their Goals and Objectives should contain. Simply deciding to adopt “alternative strategies” makes the Strategic Plan virtually a paper exercise that collects dust on the shelf. Hopefully you agree that a worthwhile Strategic Plan is SO MUCH MORE than that.

  3. I have just found your site and had to make a comment here. The original commenter is right is his intent. To be able to create a future focused strategy that positions a library or any organisation for the myriad of alternatives outcomes that the future will bring, we need first to be exploring the nature of those alternatives and their implications, before deciding on a preferred future (your forecast perhaps, although I’ve not read everything on your site) and the actions that will get you there.

    For me and the work I do on strategy development, it’s less about the process, which you have defined very nicely, and more about changing how people think about the future, and challenging their assumptions about how work will be done and how they will need to change how they work in the future (like seriously considering eliminating traditional shelving if that looks like one of the ways libraries can remain relevant in the future).

    If people want to avoid the STOP outcome, they will need to recognise that the forecast is one possible future, their prefrerred future, BUT they will need to be ready to adapt that forecast to whatever the future throws at them – in other words, they have to be comfortable with continuing uncertainty, and not rely on the comfort a forecast often brings to replace having to keep an eye on what is changing out here and responding quickly.

    • I agree with your observations, and thanks for sharing.
      Change is what developing a 21st Century Library strategic plan is really about, but obviously, that is the hardest part of creating a visionary plan and gaining employee buy-in. I’m hoping people will find the impetus for change within my 21st Century Library Strategic Plan Model.

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