Strategic Plan Guiding Questions

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Emerging from a systems mapping process is a strategic planning process to determine a set of actionable strategies to achieve a community’s agreed upon target outcomes. Below are a set of guiding questions to inform this undertaking. The result should be a concise, comprehensive plan that is “investment ready.”

Strategic Planning Questions for Innovation Initiative

Strategy Team Members:


Overview: The purpose of this document is to provide a set of guiding questions for your Innovation Council to develop a strategic direction for your innovation initiative. It is encouraged that you draw from available data and a local asset map to determine best ways to leverage existing assets and address current gaps. This is an iterative process with active participation by all community stakeholders.

Introduction (A brief description of the proposed Innovation Initiative… consider an illustrative story that brings the problem/solution to life within the context of your community. Describe any activities/strategies already underway.)

Analysis of Challenge being Addressed

What is the fundamental problem/opportunity being addressed to strengthen your city’s inxlusive innovation ecosystem?

Who is the primary audience?

Provide evidence of the importance and size of the problem/opportunity

What does success look like?
What is this initiative’s potential impact? What are the target outcomes?

Short-term (next 1-2 years):

Medium-term (next 3-4 years):

Longer-term (next 5+ years):

What are your target outputs?

  • How many could be served in first year, after three years, after five years?
  • What would short-term (after one year), medium-term (after three years), and long-term (after 10 years) outcomes look like?

How would you plan on measuring these outputs, outcomes, and impact?

How would you measure the success of ensuring that the ecosystem is inclusive?

What are strategies to achieve intended outcomes?
Based on available assets, what are emerging strategies for addressing the stated challenges and achieving the target outcomes?

What holes still need to be filled in order to implement these strategies?

Based on this idea, what is proposed operational plan?

  • What would your first-year project plan look like?
    • Operations plan
    • Startup funding needed/potential sources of funds
    • Initial financial assumptions of costs for startup
    • Financial assumptions for costs and revenues for operational budget
  • What would your 3-year strategic plan look like?
  • What would be some specific benchmarks to measure your progress?

What would success look like after one year if you were being successful? After three years?

Why do you think these interventions will successfully solve the problem?

What best practices are you drawing from?

What are similar models you have discovered that can inform your idea? (please provide detail that helps to corroborate the validity of your idea) What trends or new technologies could assist in developing a successful innovation ecosystem? Include summaries of models in the appendix. What resources were helpful in your investigation?

Who is going to do the work?
Who are the accountable organizations responsible for implementing this plan?
What experience do they have relevant to this work?

What is their current capacity?

What additional capacity is needed?

Who are additional partners?

Who are the important stakeholders and potential partners who need to be involved to help put this plan into action? What diverse stakeholder groups need to be represented in order to consider the ecosystem inclusive?

What are the specific roles for these partners? Who is committed? What is the plan to engage uncommitted partners?

What is the proposed board to oversee this work?

Who is on the oversight board?

What is the proposed board to oversee this work and what is the background of each proposed member?

Who is on the advisory board (if applicable)?

What resources are needed to implement plan for next three years?

What is the three year budget?

What is 12 month cash flow?

Based on projected budget, what resources are needed to implement plan?

What are sources of capital?

  • Philanthropic
  • Public support
  • Other sources of revenue

Risk Analysis

What are key risks embedded in this plan?

What are strategies to mitigate these risks?

Open questions that still need to get addressed

What key assumptions are still outstanding to determine if this is a feasible idea or not?

Next Steps

Based on your analysis and work to date, what are immediate next steps?

Concluding Thoughts

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