Planning Terminology

To ensure that everyone has a common understanding of the terminology employed in the planning process, below is a brief summary of the most common terms.

Vision – Destination statement that expresses the University’s aspirations for the future.

Mission – Purpose statement that expresses the University’s main reason(s) for existence.

Core Values – Principle statements that guide and motivate the institution and its members.

Strategic directions – General statements of planned action consistent with the University’s core values, vision and mission.

Strategic goals – Moderately specific statements of action derived from the strategic directions that establish expected outcomes.

Strategic initiatives – Statements describing initiatives that will lead to action plans designed to reach the outcome(s) established by the strategic goals. Action plans will include costs, implementation schedule and responsible parties.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – Statements that express the measures of success toward the achievement of a given goal or initiative.

Strategic directions are the heart of the Strategic Plan. They provide organizational structure and institutional focus and define the major long-term emphases or themes of the institution. Strategic directions are typically set only every five to six years or when significant externalities require a shift in direction but are reviewed at least annually. While new strategic directions may arise during this time, they are generally not expected to change significantly over the life cycle of the plan.

Strategic goals give specificity to strategic directions and establish expectations of success. They, too, are key features of the written Strategic Plan. Strategic goals set the parameters for the institution in terms of how the approved strategic directions will be realized. Strategic initiatives, by definition, are those initiatives that 1) have institutional impact and 2) are directly linked to specific institutional strategic goals. All strategic initiatives will include an action plan that outlines the unit(s) responsible for implementation, a timeline, resources needed, and performance targets.


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