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5 Mission and Strategic Planning Strategic planning is essential to the success of any organizationlarge or small, public or private, for profit or nonprofit. Rather than being reactive to emergencies, strategic planning is proactive and is based upon decisions about the future of an organization (Steiner et al., 1994). Specific internal (e.g., change in leadership, high turnover, loss of focus, crisis) and external (e.g., competing organizations, changing accreditation, societal changes) indicators can increase the urgency for strategic planning (Steiner et al., 1994). There should be a firm commitment within an organization to completion of a strategic plan. Many different models for strategic planning exist for nonprofit, for-profit, and governmental strategic planning (Bryson, 1988; Crittenden and Crittenden, 1997; Godet, 2000; Gummer, 1997; McNamara, 2003; Steiner et al., 1994). In one model a strategic planning process can involve six steps (McNamara, 2003): (1) assessing the current status of an organization (where we are); (2) identifying resources (human, physical, and capital) that are available to the organization (what we have to work with); (3) envisioning the future status of an organization (where we want to be); (4) formulating a process to position the organization into the future (how we get there); (5) monitoring and evaluating the strategic plan (have we implemented the strategic plan); and (6) revising the strategic plan (is the strategic plan still appropriate). The act of creating a strategic plan facilitates organizational performance through several mechanisms: (1) It forces an organization to identify its internal strengths and weaknesses and its external opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis). This information is then used to formulate a strategy that enables the organization to capitalize on strengths and opportunities and to neutralize weaknesses or threats (Gibis et al., 2001). An organization's strategy answers the basic question of "how we will compete and be successful." (2) The strategic plan, when adequately communicated to organizational members, provides a framework for guiding and evaluating individual-, unit-, and organizational-level actions and behaviors, decision making, and planning. In other words, the strategic planning process not only identifies the organizational goals and mission but also specifies how those goals will be achieved, and what the objective, quantifiable indicators of progress and success will be (McNamara, 2003). Strategic planning can be performed by an internal facilitator or by an external facilitator (or consultant). The use of an external facilitator may be advantageous for several reasons (McNamara, 2003). Nonprofit organizations which use a formal approach to strategic planning may have higher levels of social and financial performance than those with more informal procedures (Siciliano, 1997). Within an organization, the appropriate expertise to conduct a strategic planning process may not exist. An internal facilitator could either inhibit participation from others or may not have the opportunity to participate in planning fully. An external facilitator will likely not have strong preconceived ideas about the organization's strategic issues and ideas. A broad range of participants (a planning team) is needed for a successful strategic planning process. The planning team should include the organization's director and, if applicable, board chair to drive development and implementation of the strategic plan (McNamara, 2003). Staff at various levels in the organization should be part of the process. Information flow throughout the organization's hierarchy is essential to obtain contributions to the 59

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60 ANIMAL CARE AND MANAGEMENT AT THE NATIONAL ZOO: INTERIM REPORT strategic planning process (Crittenden and Crittenden, 1997). Stakeholders (e.g., funders, trade associations, potential collaborators, vendors and suppliers, consumers, volunteers.) should be included to ensure that the needs of the organizations clientele are considered in the strategic plan. Volunteers particularly focus their attention on organizations that have a formal decision-making process (Crittenden and Crittenden, 1997). A strategic plan has no value if it is not implemented, evaluated, and updated. A strategic plan should be clearly communicated at all levels within an organization before it can be fully implemented. An implementation strategy will ensure that goals and objectives set forth by management can be achieved by staff with quantifiable results (Bonoma and Clark, 1990). Allocation of responsibilities to specific members through detailed action plans are necessary elements (Crittenden and Crittenden, 1997). A strategic plan should specify who is responsible for overall implementation and should assign responsibility for achieving each goal and objective to individual staff members. Finally, a strategic plan should not be a static document; it will need to be revised in response to changing internalities and external circumstances. In a broader context, contemporary zoos are guided by five basic principles that should be considered in a strategic plan: conservation, education, science (research), entertainment, and animal welfare (Maple, 2003). At zoos conservation goals may be inconsistent with animal welfare concerns (Cohn, 1992). Because captive animals live longer (due to improved medical care and animal husbandry, and improvements in facilities and social grouping), additional consideration should be given to the care and management of geriatric animals (Maple, 2003). As part of its accreditation process the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (2003c) requires a strategic plan for zoos. Specific elements of the strategic planning process for a zoo should include (adapted from Pensacola Junior College, 2004): defining the mission describing its organization outlining its vision for the future identifying focus areas detailing primary strategies to address the main issues setting goals and implementation strategies stating specific expected results in support of the goals performance measures Measuring performance is critical to evaluating the success or failure of goals and objectives outlined in the strategic plan. The Perth (Australia) Zoo measures annual performance by effectiveness and efficiency indicators in three areas (Perth Zoo, 2003): (1) wildlife conservation, (2) customer awareness of conservation, and (3) customer service. A performance audit for the Philadelphia Zoo (City of Philadelphia, 1997) identified strengths, opportunities, and recommendations. In 2000 the Oregon Zoo (Metro, 2000) performance measures were evaluated by comparisons with other zoos. Other zoos have used a variety of objective, performance, and activity measures (Auckland Regional Council, 2003; City of Topeka, 2003; Woodland Park Zoological Society, 2003). STRATEGIC PLANNING AT THE NATIONAL ZOO The National Zoo has defined its mission as exhibiting and protecting biodiversity by joining public education and recreation with research in conservation biology and reproductive sciences (NZP, History, 2003). The mission articulates a goal to be a world-leading institution. The mission of the National Zoological Park (NZP) is to celebrate, study, and protect the diversity of animals and their habitats. The NZP exhibits living animal and plant collections, conducts research in conservation biology and reproductive sciences, and provides educational and recreational environments for the visiting public (Smithsonian Institution, 2004). The National Zoo currently operates without a strategic plan that incorporates all elements of the National Zoo, and it has not recently performed a SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis (NZP, October 16, 2003). The 1992 accreditation report (AZA, 1992) also indicated the lack of a strategic plan. The National Zoo was scheduled to begin a strategic planning process in October 2003 as part of a Smithsonian-wide

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MISSION AND STRATEGIC PLANNING 61 program (NZP Submission, October 16, 2003). The zoo does have an animal collections plan and a 10-year facility revitalization plan. STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES IN STRATEGIC PLANNING AT THE NATIONAL ZOO The National Zoo currently does not possess a strategic plan; a strategic planning process was recently initiated within the National Zoo as part of a Smithsonian-wide program (NZP Submission, October 16, 2003). This process is a positive step forward, because strategic planning is a critical and immediate need for the National Zoo. It should proceed as quickly as possible and incorporate both the animal collections plan and the 10-year facility revitalization plan, while the critical areas of needed repairs to the physical plant are under way. The strategic plan should also consider the five basic principles to which contemporary zoos are dedicated: conservation, education, science (research), entertainment, and animal welfare (Maple, 2003). This process is being facilitated by a person external to the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution. By having an external facilitator strong conceptions about the National Zoo's strategic issues and ideas can be avoided. The strategic plan is anticipated to be approved by the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution in April 2004, with implementation beginning in May 2004 (NZP, Strategic Planning Timeline, January 8, 2004). The strategic planning process for the National Zoo has representation from a variety of internal stakeholders (NZP, Draft NZP Strategic Planning Roles, January 9, 2004). Leadership from the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution is critical to the success of the strategic planning process. Staff from all levels within the zoo is represented during the planning process, along with various internal stakeholder groups (e.g., NZP Advisory Board, CRC Foundation, Science Advisory Group, FONZ Board.) (NZP, Draft NZP Strategic Planning Roles, January 9, 2004). Although external stakeholders (e.g., USDA-APHIS, Congress, Fish and Wildlife Service, AZA, the public) are not directly represented in the strategic planning process (NZP, Draft NZP Strategic Planning Roles, January 9, 2004), they had an opportunity to participate through several stakeholder sessions held in February (NZP, Smithsonian's National Zoological Park Strategic Planning, 2003-2004, January 7, 2004). The strategic planning process would be strengthened by having direct representation from some of those external stakeholder groups in addition to the stakeholder sessions already held. One issue the National Zoo will need to address during the strategic planning process involves evaluating and identifying its mission and goals. One challenge for the National Zoo as part of the Smithsonian Institution is to maintain alignment with the Smithsonian Institution's mission while identifying and implementing a strategy that will enable its independent success. In addition, the National Zoo needs to decide whether it will position itself as a metropolitan zoo or as the nation's zoo. The decision should be driven by a pragmatic evaluation of the National Zoo's internal strengths and weaknesses (SWOT analysis) in areas such as human resources, facilities, animal collection, and funding. It should also be driven by an evaluation of the external marketplace, including an assessment of current and potential competition. Competition for the National Zoo consists not only of other zoos but also of other organizations that may compete with the National Zoo for visitors and private and public funding. Most successful zoos have established a niche or brand that enables them to attract visitors, secure financial resources, and generate national recognition. The National Zoo needs to identify what its niche should be. After identifying its generic mission the National Zoo will need to develop clear and specific strategies and action plans that outline how the mission will be achieved. Key to successful implementation of the new strategy will be effective use of organizational resources. Some strategic initiatives may require additional resources. For example, as the National Zoo expands and revitalizes the animal collection, it will be important to plan for the additional needs these changes will create in facilities and staffing. More important than acquiring additional resources will be generating a plan that ensures maximum use of current resources. For example, decisions regarding facilities repair and maintenance should consider the role of different facilities in the strategic plan. Current and proposed projects should also be evaluated in relation to their fit with the strategy. For example, it will be important to think about how current projects such as the Asia Trail and Farm can be aligned with the new mission or how current or future research will relate to conservation objectives. Similarly, it will be important to consider how to best leverage FONZ to help the zoo achieve its new strategies. FONZ members may possess unique skills or abilities that the National Zoo can tap to help implement its strategies. The National Zoo will need to engage in strategic resource planning (i.e., human, facilities, funding) to support the mission. In the past the capability of the National Zoo to engage in resource planning has been somewhat limited because many resource decisions were made at the Smithsonian level. For example, the Smithsonian is currently conducting staff reductions (i.e., buyouts) across all its units, including the National Zoo. This practice not only raises concerns about the extent to which the National Zoo will lose valuable personnel and

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62 ANIMAL CARE AND MANAGEMENT AT THE NATIONAL ZOO: INTERIM REPORT expertise but also severely limits the capability of the National Zoo to make strategic staffing decisions. Moreover, the National Zoo has not been informed by the Smithsonian of the employees that are eligible for buyout, which has prevented planning for loss of staff and expertise. Overall, effective use of organizational resources will be critical to successful implementation of the National Zoo's strategic plan. Findings and Immediate Needs Finding 7: The National Zoo is operating without a strategic plan, which jeopardizes its long-term operations and focused use of the zoo's resources. An integrated plan for the entire institution incorporating the 10-year facility revitalization and animal collections plans has not been developed. Immediate Needs: The National Zoo should develop a comprehensive strategic plan and provide integrated goals for all aspects of the institution, with operational goals and performance measures, as soon as possible.