By Philip Reed
Chief Strategy Officer Kerry Whitford is working with senior leaders to develop WAPA's 2030 strategic plan, the successor to Strategic Roadmap 2024. The Roadmap was originally developed in 2014 and outlined four Critical Pathways that WAPA would focus on over a 10-year period.
“Much has been accomplished under the Roadmap and many of the tactical action plan initiatives have either been completed or operationalized," Whitford said. “The Strategy Office plans to summarize and celebrate key accomplishments as we transition to a new strategic plan."
She explained that good strategic planning calls for senior leaders to revisit, assess and adjust the organization's priorities, goals and actions. WAPA is ensuring that the organization remains focused on meeting its customers' needs, aligned with Department of Energy goals and responsive to industry change through the 2030 strategic planning effort.
Whitford and the Senior Leadership Team are hard at work on the new strategic plan, and she has found feedback – from employees in particular – to be especially helpful during this process.
“You spoke and we listened," Whitford said. “I could not be more grateful to the employees who provided us with their feedback. All of it was heard, all of it was discussed and it is helping us to shape the organization's new strategic plan. I hope to continue hearing from employees, because their feedback is valued greatly."
Earlier this year, Whitford surveyed WAPA employees, customers and other stakeholders to better understand their perspectives on WAPA, its culture and the direction it should take in the future to address internal and external threats and opportunities. More than 250 employees responded, and Whitford hopes that she will hear from many more very soon.
“Employee feedback has been so helpful to senior leaders in identifying strategic priorities that we are going to actively solicit more of it," she said. “We want to hear from everybody, and it's important to us that anyone who has feedback on WAPA's strategic direction also has an opportunity to share their thoughts."
In addition to soliciting feedback directly from employees, the SLT vetted the initial strategic priorities with a group of council chairs and functional area representatives. All of the input received is being used to develop a “top-tier" strategy and shape specific strategic objectives that will drive the next phase of development.
Her team is planning to hold a series of Let's Talk Strategy sessions in the near future, and she encouraged employees to keep an eye on their email for specific dates and instructions for participating. These will be opportunities for employees to hear about the strategic plan, discuss the proposed strategic themes, results and objectives and learn how to provide formal comments.
“The SLT is working hard with council representatives, taking all of the comments we received on board and developing strategic priorities, goals and objectives," Whitford said. “Everyone at WAPA is going to get another chance to participate, and I want to hear from you."
The team has used all feedback received about WAPA's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to create a final analysis, better known as a SWOT analysis. This will help identify the strategic direction and set specific objectives for the organization.
“The final SWOT incorporates employee feedback and the SLT is using it to identify our strategic direction and goals," she said. “Our proposed strategies so far are aligning nicely, and our representatives from councils and functional areas are creating and proposing strategic objectives to address these."
Whitford credited her colleagues on the SLT for the leadership that they are demonstrating throughout this process. Being still relatively new to WAPA, she is impressed with the level of engagement and the seriousness with which members of the SLT take their strategic planning responsibilities.
“The SLT is leading WAPA by determining the overarching strategy for the organization," she said. “By collecting input, they are better able to help develop the strategic plan, as well as understand and respond to the concerns of employees at all levels. This entire process allows WAPA's leaders to lead, while still allowing others to be involved in the strategy."
Whitford said that employees will be hearing more about the 2030 strategic plan in the coming months, and she encourages everyone to get involved and share their thoughts.
“We need your continued involvement," she concluded. “Sign up for the Let's Talk Strategy sessions. Be prepared to participate and let us hear your thoughts. Please continue to share your feedback."
Note: Reed is a public affairs specialist.