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What Are Strategic Priorities?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 28 June 2014
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Strategic priorities are ranked organizational objectives and goals. These can include generalized mission statements like ethical guidelines as well as more specific targets, such as interacting more with the community. All planning initiatives consider these priorities and work to accomplish them through a variety of tools. They may be a topic of public discussion and debate in documents like annual reports, mission statements, and similar materials provided for informational purposes.

There are a number of approaches to take when developing strategic priorities. Organizations can think about their current state and where they want to move in the future, considering topics like what they manufacture, the kinds of services they provide, and ethical concerns. Some companies may be concerned with environmental sustainability or adherence to religious values, for example, and might make these key strategic priorities. Other organizations might be interested in community involvement and finding ties between their work and community needs, such as pharmaceutical companies that provide medications for compassionate use.

Focus groups of executives and other personnel may work together to create strategic priorities for an organization like a university, company, or government agency. With these clear goals in mind, it is possible to start developing a long-term plan to support them. This can include more explicit articulation of goals. A company that says it wants to be more environmentally sustainable could set a target like going carbon neutral within a set number of years or reducing packaging by 50%.

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When considering how to allocate resources, the strategic priorities come into play. The most important priorities need the most funding and attention to ensure that they are realized, without neglecting the others. Sometimes it may be possible to address multiple goals through the same initiatives. A college that wants to be more involved in the community and also wishes to sponsor social justice initiatives, for instance, could be involved in community activism or charities to provide services to people who need them.

These goals can also be subjects of periodic reevaluation and discussion. People meeting to discuss long-term plans, funding, and new initiatives can determine whether these mesh with the strategic goals. If they do not, this may be the result of mission creep, and it could be time for the organization to refocus or change its goals if they no longer suit the times. Organizational shift does occur in response to changing needs, social pressures, and other factors, and the ability to move with this can be important for longevity.

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