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22 Strategic Planning in the Airport Industry Unless a strategic plan was recently completed for the organization, or the organization has a clear understanding of its mission and vision, it is most likely that a strategic planning process will benefit the organization. Key factors that indicate the need to initiate a strategic planning process include, but are not limited to, the following: The organization does not have a clear vision of what it wants to achieve and there is no con- sensus about the organization's vision The organization does not have a mission statement Employees do not know, or do not have a clear understanding of, the organization's mission and vision The organization does not have clear strategies and objectives for what it wants to achieve No process is in place to monitor achievement of the organization's vision The organization never completed a strategic plan or the existing plan is outdated No clear link exists between the organization's overall strategy and its business processes The organization does not have a performance management system in place There is no established communication between senior management and staff The organization's strategy is not defined in measurable, operational terms Regardless of the reasons for initiating the strategic planning process, the planning team should identify the reasons early in the process in order to explain and justify the planning process to others, evaluate the effectiveness and value of the strategic planning process, and define the specific benefits of planning strategically. Respondents to the online survey indicated that the five best reasons for developing a strate- gic plan include the following: (1) it provides a sense of direction to the organization; (2) it is an essential management tool; (3) it is an essential leadership tool; (4) it helps with gaining stake- holder buy-in; and (5) it helps to promote future facility improvements. To define the need and reasons for initiating the strategic planning process, com- plete Worksheet 3.01, "Initiating the Strategic Planning Process." 3.2 Defining Specific Benefits The benefits associated with strategic planning generally go well beyond the tangible products of the written plan. Before initiating the process, however, the organization should weigh the potential benefits against the costs of planning. For many, developing a strategic plan is a daunting task because of a variety of organizational barriers, including a lack of executive support, an inability to bring together the organization's various departments, and a lack of understanding of the potential benefits to be derived from the strategic planning process. Before delving into detailed planning, the organization's leaders should define the potential benefits of the strategic plan. To define these potential benefits, the organization's leaders should agree upon the overall direction of the strategic plan and conduct a rapid assessment of the orga- nization's current capabilities. This information will provide the basis for making a benefits case to support detailed strategic planning and, at the same time, educate department leaders about the strategic planning process and its potential outcomes. The literature review for this research revealed that organizations that strategically plan typi- cally outperform those that do not. In addition, generic benefits associated with the strategic planning process generally include the following:

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Creating a Process Plan and Road Map 23 Helping to clarify mission and vision statements Helping to clarify internal values Fostering leadership Increasing communication between and among policy board, department leaders, and staff Providing a tool for organizational accountability Providing a tool for better decisions as a result of the group decision-making process Helping to gain community support Serving as a communications tool within and outside the organization Raising board members' awareness of current issues and operations Increasing organizational performance Increasing the likelihood of identifying organizational and environmental conditions that may create problems in the long term. Airport-specific benefits associated with the strategic planning process include, but are not limited to, the following: Improved generation of economic benefits in the surrounding local and regional economies Increased ability to attract new airline service and passenger traffic resulting from improved strategic positioning Identification and maximization of revenue-generating opportunities Adoption of an optimal governance structure The following three steps are designed to help an organization define and defend the poten- tial benefits of strategic planning. 3.2.1 Step 1: Identify the Scope for a Benefits Case This first step consists of an assessment of the organization's current culture and personnel so as to define the need for a benefits case. If limited objection to the strategic planning process is foreseen, there is no need to build a benefits case. An initial meeting/interview with the organi- zation's department leaders and policy board members will indicate whether there is a need to build a benefits case. From these discussions, a clear set of objectives and a scope for the benefits case should be identified. Typical questions that help to identify the scope include the following: Who needs to be convinced that the strategic planning process is essential? What parties will be most affected by the process? What aspects of the strategic planning process are to be covered? For example, will a bench- marking study of other airports be included? Once the benefits case is completed, what will the decision-making process be to gain approval for development of a strategic plan? 3.2.2 Step 2: Present the Plan To build a benefits case for the strategic planning process, the strategic planning team should present to the Board members and/or key executives its plan of action. This plan should be pre- sented in a manner that shows how the plan will answer the need for the strategic plan identified under Section 3.1 of this Guidebook and how this plan will differ from the status quo. 3.2.3 Step 3: Defend the Benefits The strategic planning team should defend the benefits of the process and show how those ben- efits relate specifically to the needs identified under Section 3.1. From the benefits identified, the team may elect to focus on two or three benefits, which would constitute the primary arguments.