Did I just see you yawn? Let me try again. Strategy documents.
Setting high level goals is important, but the process walks a knife edge: are the goals too general to be realized? are they too specific to provide a guide to the whole organization?
Here's the goals from the BC CIO's strategic plan:
- Adopting and incorporating outcome management in strategic planning activities;
- Applying integrated, collaborative, consistent and transparent approach to strategy development;
- Developing and delivering on IM/IT goals and objectives; and
- Optimizing collaboration across the division and with stakeholders
It's hard to choose where to start hating these: the focus on process; the organization-centric worldview; or the relentless use of the passive voice. You choose.
When Vivek Kundra took over as Barack Obama's CIO, he produced a 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management:
- Apply “Light Technology” and Shared Solutions
- Complete detailed implementation plans to consolidate at least 800 data centers by 2015
- Create a government-wide marketplace for data center availability
- Shift to a “Cloud First” policy
- Stand-up contract vehicles for secure IaaS solutions
- Stand-up contract vehicles for commodity services
- Develop a strategy for shared services
- Strengthen Program Management
- Design a formal IT program management career path
- Scale IT program management career path government-wide
- Require integrated program teams
- Launch a best practices collaboration platform
- Launch technology fellows program
- Enable IT program manager mobility across government and industry
- Align the Acquisition Process with the Technology Cycle
- Design and develop a cadre of specialized IT acquisition professionals
- Identify IT acquisition best practices and adopt government-wide
- Issue contracting guidance and templates to support modular development
- Reduce barriers to entry for small innovative technology companies
- Align the Budget Process with the Technology Cycle
- Work with Congress to develop IT budget models that align with modular development
- Develop supporting materials and guidance for flexible IT budget models
- Work with Congress to scale flexible IT budget models more broadly
- Work with Congress to consolidate commodity IT spending under Agency CIO
- Streamline Governance and Improve Accountability
- Reform and strengthen Investment Review Boards
- Redefine role of Agency CIOs and Federal CIO Council
- Rollout “TechStat” model at bureau-level
- Increase Engagement with Industry
- Launch “myth-busters” education campaign
- Launch interactive platform for pre-RFP agency-industry collaboration
While there's still a certain amount of navel-gazing at internal concerns, around things like CIO councils and review boards, the plan at least is made up of actions, stated in the active voice, most of which can be evaluated on a done/not-done basis over time. The organization can track whether it is executing this plan, and whether staff are allocated to it's accomplishment.
Of more recent vintage, the UK Government Digital Service has a strategic plan (note, available in simple HTML)
- Improve departmental digital leadership
- Develop digital capability throughout the civil service
- Redesign transactional services to meet a new Digital by Default Service Standard
- Complete the transition to GOV.UK
- Increase the number of people who use digital services
- Provide consistent services for people who have rarely or never been online
- Broaden the range of those tendering to supply digital services including more small and medium sized enterprises
- Build common technology platforms for digital by default services
- Remove unnecessary legislative barriers
- Base service decisions on accurate and timely management information
- Improve the way that the government makes policy and communicates with people
- Collaborate with partners across public, private and voluntary sectors to help more people go online
- Help third party organisations create new services and better information access for their own users by opening up government data and transactions
There are fewer done/not done items here than in the US plan, but a lot less emphasis on internal processes and more about achieving results, for "people" (the word "people" shows up in four of the twelve points). The plan is focussed on not on internal processes, but on external results.
Which organization is likely to produce more positive results for the people who pay their salaries? The one "optimizing collaboration across the division"? Or the one that seeks to "increase the number of people who use digital services"?
This can be (heck, it IS) deathly dull, but these documents provide the base note over which the activities of an organization are laid: does this organization accomplish things, or does it talk about how best to accomplish things? You can tell a lot, and learn a lot, from these documents.