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Reverse Strategic Planning: Evaluating A Team’s Workplace Productivity

Formal strategic planning usually starts with an overarching mission and vision statement to prioritize long term goals and guide management-level decisions for the workplace.


Reverse strategic planning, on the other hand, starts with the grassroots: the reality of what priorities personnel use to make decisions and take action. Formal planning tends to be idealistic; reverse strategic planning tends to be pragmatic: the difference between the “right” way to do things and the “real” way.


Reverse strategic planning is about creating a group snapshot of what members of a team, department, committee, or staff (25 people or less) are doing, based on what they think is important:


In the meeting, everyone creates a prioritized list, which is posted and commented upon by the entire group, whose participants make comments in writing. Then each person makes a brief presentation, responding to comments and questions. Helps people understand what co-workers do and how everyone’s work fits together.


This snapshot can reveal where a group is regarding current project goals, job descriptions, contracts, strategic plans, and much more. Project management flags, such as project drift, pet projects, and overreach, are revealed. Also, it can provide useful clues about which employees see and understand the big picture and which are “hiding out,” do their jobs without consideration for how their choices can impact the bigger picture.



• Evaluate the progress of projects of events, projects, plans, and causes.
• Reveal issues with how resources are being used.
• Create a working strategic plan based on what people are already doing.

Reverse Strategic Planning: Evaluating A Team’s Workplace Productivity


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  • Pat Wagner is a trainer and consultant with 40 years of experience working for libraries, universities, local government, non profits, and small businesses. She supports the success of libraries with programs on personnel, supervision, management, leadership, marketing, strategic planning, project management, and communication. Pat has worked with libraries and library organizations throughout the United States, from the smallest rural storefronts to the largest academic and urban library institutions. Pat also is a frequent speaker at state and national conferences. She is known for her good-humored and practical presentations.

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