Creating a 5-Year Strategic Plan

This is Part 1 of my 5-part series giving details about my campaign platform for running for President-Elect of the American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy. Voting opens April 1, 2021 and I would greatly appreciate your support.

In general, professional associations become organized to provide support and help drive the profession forward. Just like when working with a patient, goal setting is an important component of achieving success. Some goals are simple to achieve; some take a little more ambition and planning.

As an association, AASPT has met a lot of goals over the years. Many were simple goals achieved by individual executive committees making quick and decisive decisions. Some of these goals have been the hard work of members over longer periods of time. In order to achieve these more ambitious goals, it takes strategic planning.

Strategic planning is the process of setting a series of smaller goals to meet sequentially as an organization moves towards a complex and difficult target that will take many years to accomplish. The Academy has never done this in the formal and official way that other academies and professional associations do.

Formal and Official?

Traditionally the Academy has worked towards objectives amongst its leadership, but never has it laid out its long-term, multi-year goals and the steps to achieve them for the membership to see. Setting this as a formal and official plan allows the membership to see where the Academy is trying to go and its plans on how to get there. This allows for increased transparency and also accountability. If leadership does not meet the goals it has set in the time it has allotted, there should be public pressure to figure out why.

This is not to be perceived as a way to “punish” leadership for “failure”, but for tracking the progress and to better understand the time, effort, and costs required for more accurate planning in the future.

Ok but why 5 years? Doesn’t the President only serve for 3 years?

Yes. This formal and official strategic plan is not for a single officer or even a single Executive Committee. It is for the Academy as a whole. It guides the Academy through more than one Executive Committee. These are goals that are ambitious and lofty that cannot be reached in one term.

And I am only starting with a 5-year strategic plan. I would like to also have 10-year and 20-year strategic plans. It is essentially sitting down and asking “Where do we want to be in 5-years? 10-years? 20-years?” Plans for the next 5 years are more practical. Plans for 20 years are more transformative.

Why don’t we just focus on solving immediate needs?

Well, often there are several different ways to solve an immediate problem. But there may be only one or two ways that not only solve the immediate problem, but also support later moves towards our larger strategic plan. Having a strategic plan to refer to would provide guidance for selecting short term solutions.

Who sets the plan?

I would see the first 5-year strategic plan being developed by the Executive Committee, the way all decisions in the Academy are currently made. But the future would look different if it was up to me. Another change I am proposing is the creation of a separate Executive Board made up of a larger leadership body to help make bigger decisions for the Academy – more on this in another post. I would see the Executive Committee creating the 5-year strategic plan, and then have the larger Executive Board deliberate, comment, amend, and vote on a final plan.

The Executive Committee would continue to set its own annual internal plan which consists of the minutia of running a large association. I am not a fan of bombarding the membership with every little decision, this is why we elect leaders. But I do want something that provides a broadly visioned “guide star” for our leaders.

How fixed is this plan?

Sometimes you set goals and it just doesn’t go as planned. Maybe there are more steps than we anticipated. Maybe the priorities of our members change and they would rather see the plan revised before 5-years. The thing to remember here is that the plan serves the Academy, not the other way around. We would have ways to adjust if need be.

One of the goals of the first 5-year strategic plan would be to lay out the specific details of how our 5-year strategic plans will function. I know…meta.

How long until we would see a formal and official plan?

If elected, I would serve one year as President-Elect: a non-voting member of the Executive Committee. During this time, I would be encouraging our members and leadership to think about and share what they would want to see in a 5-year strategic plan for our Academy. Some of the other ideas I will be laying out in later posts as part of my platform will also fall into that 5-year strategic plan.

If elected, I would take office as President in the summer of 2022. The Executive Committee would hold its usual annual strategic planning meeting that summer to finalize the first 5-year strategic plan at that time.

Questions/comments about the AASPT developing a 5-year strategic plan? Contact me!

Look for my post next week when I discuss the creation of a research agenda.