New eBook On Strategic Planning

One of the biggest challenges for public and private sector community leaders is to ensure residents enjoy sustainable economic prosperity. Some communities are blessed with amazing natural assets making the challenge a little easier to address. Some communities have well developed and highly competitive industry clusters to build from.

Whatever the situation, to be successful requires a well conceived, aligned strategic plan and excellence in execution of the resultant tactical action plans. Without a strategic plan to guide decision-making, communities are like corks on the ocean rising and falling with each economic wave.

Occasionally, there are disruptive events that test the strength of any strategic plan and need to be addressed. It can be the loss of a major employer, the devastation of a natural disaster, or the unexpected emergence of a brand new industry.

I authored this eBook with the latter in mind. The emergence of the shale energy industry in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays is creating a disruptive impact on many rural communities in the nation’s Appalachian Region. A Region that has a history of suffering through boom-bust cycles related to the emergence of new industries (lumber, steel, and coal). My assessment is that in each case, the Region had an opportunity to leverage the new industry as a springboard to sustainable economic prosperity, but due to a lack of adequate strategic planning became a victim of circumstances.

Through my work with the Nemacolin Energy Institute and with Ohio’s Enterprise Appalachia Program, I have had an opportunity to talk with a wide range of people from both the public and private sector about the shale energy industry. I am absolutely convinced the difference between success and failure in creating sustainable economic prosperity for the communities impacted by the emergence of this exciting new industry is a function of the quality of the strategic plans that are in place and the disciplined approach to using those plans to guide local decision-making.

Foundational Models

This eBook leverages two proven successful models and attempts to integrate them into a reasonably easy process that can be implemented locally (with or without professional facilitation).

The first model is the OGSM process. This process was initially developed by Monitor, a globally recognized consulting firm. I have used the model on a number of occasions and found it to be an excellent way of driving choices and providing clarity on what the plan for success looks like. Monitor has a great article on its website titled “Dynamic Strategy Implementation: Delivering on Your Strategic Ambition”  that is worth reviewing. The authors cite three common reasons for strategic plan failure – 1) failure to create sufficient action plans, 2) failure to adapt the strategies to respond to major changes in the situation, and 3) failure to resource execution properly. It is important your community leaders talk through how to avoid these classic traps and implement policies/procedures that avoid the missteps and help ensure your chances for success.

The second model is the rural wealth creation modelwhich is a project of the Ford Foundation. The model defines seven forms of community wealth – financial capital, natural capital, social capital, individual capital, built capital, intellectual capital and political capital. The goal for a community is to ensure that a broad definition of wealth is used in guiding strategic decision-making.

The hybrid model in the eBook challenges you to use the rural wealth creation definition of wealth as a framework to assess the impacts of the shale energy industry on your community and then communicate the strategic choice implications within the OGSM framework. I believe this approach provides you advantages in the strategy design-to-deployment process. While authored with the shale energy industry in mind, any community that wants to proactively manage its economic prosperity in a way that helps ensure sustainability can use this hybrid model.

To be clear, the model in this eBook is not the only way to create a strategic plan for your community. But, it is a way I can confidently share with you. If you opt to use a consultant or Agency to help facilitate the strategic planning process for your community, chances are they will have their own trademarked approach. While it may get you to where you need to be, I would encourage you to make following the process in this eBook as a requirement of your RFP. They can adapt they approach to this model rather easily, and you will be certain that at the end of the exercise you will have a strategic plan with secondary action plans you can be confident in. As a heads-up, most consultants will be familiar with the OGSM model, but may not be familiar with the rural wealth creation model.

The eBook

Strategic Planning For Communities  [Note, in the eBook the special red color text is a hotline to a resource.  Please use the resources for an even better understanding of the subject.]


I authored this eBook to help provide some guidance on how to address the community impacts of the shale energy industry. It is not intended to be a definitive manual for either economic development professionals or community leaders. But, I think it will serve to connect you with some solid resources to help you better understand what to expect and start you down a productive path that will lead to a strong collaboration between your community and the shale energy industry.

Because the information is provided at no cost, I need to rely on word-of-mouth to create awareness of the eBook as a resource. Please share the link to this blog post with your colleagues and anybody you feel might benefit from reading the eBook. If you opt to pursue the suggested strategic planning process, consider sharing the eBook with every member of the leadership team or task force that will be managing it. That way everybody will start of on the same page. If you have suggestions for additional aspects you would like to see information on, please leave a comment with your suggestions. I will be building out this new section throughout 2012.

In the near future, I plan to add as many interviews, best practices and resource links as possible. I would love it if your community is in the process of working with the shale energy industry that you consider leaving a comment that shares your learning and/or insights. Together, we are smarter than any one of us and this is intended to be a forum that harnesses that knowledge.

One caveat, it is not my intent to create a venue for controversy. All comments are reviewed for their educational content before being approved for posting.

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