While the outcome of what is described in this document may be referred to as "strategic plan", "strategic framework", or something else, it is less important what you call it or what it looks like, and more important that you are intentional in setting a direction that allows you to realize the impact of the unit, that you have a realistic plan for realizing that impact, and that others (both inside and outside the unit) are able to know where the unit is going.

Perhaps more important than the road map that describes your strategic direction is the process used to get to that road map. An important expected outcome of strategic visioning is consensus and buy-in that develops as a result of participating in conversations and strategic visioning exercises. This, more than the document or what you put on the website, will allow your group or organization to move the needle.

  • Tells who we are; how we fit together; why we are a community (e.g., academic unit, program, center). 
  • Tells what is important to us (what we value).
  • Tells where we are going (what our aspirations and goals are).
  • Tells how we are going to get there, which can include both goals and strategies.
  • Identifies what we need to bring our work to scale, and how we are going to get what we need.
  • Gives us direction about how we align resources to drive outcomes. 
  • Tells us how we fit within the context and how we contribute to the direction and goals of the larger organization (e.g., IANR and the six communities, the university and the N2025 Strategic Plan).

To be helpful, a strategic visioning document is something that is able to be critically examined for relevance and changed as needed to adapt to an evolving context. Some aspects of the strategic visioning document are less dynamic (i.e., vision, mission, and values) than others (i.e., goals, strategies, and measures of progress). It should be a living document; one that is part of formal and informal conversations and that informs the most important decisions of the unit, including how resources are deployed and managed to maximize impact.