By Rich McLeod
Strategic Planning Committee Chairman
As Big Canoe readies to celebrate its 50th anniversary, we are in the midst of a professional strategic planning initiative to chart our community’s next half-century. You may have heard that there is a committee of property owners on this and have wondered what and why they are involved?
With that in mind, below are some essential details about how we are developing and drafting this roadmap to Big Canoe’s future:
Q: What is strategic planning?
A: The purpose of strategic planning is to set and achieve the strategic objectives of an organization. While it has a mid to long-term view of where we are going, it’s used as a context for decision-making in driving short-term goals and annual operating/business plans. The plan acts as a roadmap for where we are going and provides guide rails to ensure we stay on course.
Q: What’s included in a Strategic Plan?
A: A good strategic plan includes:
Mission and vision statements that answer why we are here, what we want to be, and where we are going.
High-level strategic objectives examining what we need to do at a high level to achieve our mission and vision.
Situational analysis, which examines where are we now vs. where we want to be.
Action plans to guide short-term operation plans, mid to long-term plans, and the master plan.
While the strategic plan does not include annual operating plans and action plans, it is used by operations as a guide in decision-making and prioritization of annual operating plans.
Q: Doesn’t Big Canoe already have a strategic plan?
A: A strategic plan was developed in 2015. While this plan was distributed through the POA website, it was not widely communicated and now needs to be updated. In the 2021 property owner satisfaction survey, awareness of the strategic plan had among the lowest ratings in the survey.
As a result, the POA Board chartered a Strategic Planning Committee to update key parts of the strategic plan and to develop a process to ensure the plan is used for decision making by the POA Board, Long Range Planning Committee and Big Canoe operations.
Q: What is the purpose and role of the Strategic Planning Committee?
A: The temporary committee is tasked with:
Updating the Vision Statement for Big Canoe to reflect the needs and aspirations of property owners.
Develop high-level strategic objectives to guide the POA Board, Long Term Planning Committee and POA operations in decision making, prioritization, detailed goals and action plans.
Develop a process for ongoing development, communication and use of strategic planning principles throughout Big Canoe that is consistent with our overall vision and strategic objectives.
Q: Who’s on the Strategic Planning Committee and how was it formed?
A: A range of Big Canoe property owners with an expertise or strong interest in strategic planning. The 10-member committee was designed to include a cross-section of the community represented by new and long-term property owners; rental property owners; part and full-time residents who own; retired and still-working owners; and owners from a mix of age groups. Current members include Scott Auer, Bob Bachman, Bob Baird, Regis Falinski, Rich McLeod, Deneen Morgia, David Sharp, Joe Thompson, Michael Trinkle and Greg Whitaker
Q: What has the Strategic Planning Committee done and what is it doing?
A: The first mission is to develop the vision of what we want Big Canoe to become over the next 50 years. To succeed, this requires community-wide input reflecting the needs, wants and vision of all property owners. For this, we have enlisted T4 Associates, a Chicago-based consulting company specializing only in surveys and data analysis around the voice of the customer (VOC). This business and information technology term was coined to identify a very specific in-depth process of capturing customer’s expectations, preferences and aversions. T4 is applying the same kind of analysis to accurately determine the voice of the Big Canoe community.
Q: Didn’t we just do this in 2019 with the Chambers Planning Survey?
A: The 2021 satisfaction survey and 2019 Chambers study both focused on our current status and tactical issues. The purpose of the strategic plan is to look at strategic questions. For example, are we primarily a community or a resort? Do we want to be a high-end luxury community, a mid-level quality community, or a low-level economy community? Do we want to be a private, semi-private or public-access community? And how fast are we willing to move to realize our ultimate vision?
Neither the satisfaction survey nor the Chambers study was strategic. Both failed to provide the data on major strategic issues needed in a strategic plan.
Q: Why do we need to hire another consultant? Can’t POA staff manage this?
A: To get the very best results, we need professional specialists with expertise in consulting and analyzing the voice of the community. There is a precision to properly conducting a survey, to what and how a question is posed, that directly affects its accuracy. T4 has a proven track record having delivered powerful results for Fortune 500 companies. Hiring an outside firm also ensures the kind of objectivity not possible if it were left solely up to Strategic Planning Committee members.
Q: Who is T4 Associates and how were they selected?
A: We evaluated several strategic-planning and voice-of-the-customer consulting firms to bring a high level of professionalism to this project. We received competitive quotes for evaluation based on their proposed cost, expertise and approach. T4 was selected because they specialize in voice of the customer surveys – that’s all they do – and have done so since 2006 with over 400 engagements and having conducted over 24,000 in-depth interviews.
Their approach for this project is a combination of focus groups, in-depth interviews and a community-wide web-based survey.
Q: What is the overall timetable and steps for completing the Strategic Plan?
A: The first step is to complete the voice of the community survey. T4 will have finished VOC research and data analysis by mid-August.
Using the T4 findings as a foundation, the Strategic Planning Committee and ad hoc members will then meet to draft a new vision statement and high-level strategic objectives for review and comment by the POA Board and the larger community at a Town Hall meeting in September. The vision and strategic objectives will be finalized in September.
Development of the process for ongoing strategic planning is independent of the vision and strategic objectives and has already begun. Elements of the strategic plan, planning tools and templates (i.e. situational analysis, SWOT [strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats] analysis, gap analysis, goals and action plans, communication, etc.) will be completed by mid-September.
Training and coaching for POA staff to adopt strategic plans will be conducted in September, with the goal of completing work plans and performance goals by mid-November.
Recommendations for how to ensure strategic planning becomes ongoing in Big Canoe and is communicated to all property owners and stakeholders will be presented to the POA Board by mid-October. At that point, the Strategic Planning Committee will have completed its chartered mission and will disband.
The hard work of the members of the Strategic Planning Committee and the support of both the POA Board and General Manager Scott Auer will position Big Canoe for a very bright future.
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