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A Plan for Progress: The SAE Strategic Plan and Strategic Planning Process
Raymond A. Morris
SAE

Neil A. Schilke and Donald W. Ableson
General Mctcrs Corp.

MAY 3 1990

SAE

LIBRARY
41st Annual Earthmoving Industry Conference Peoria, Illinois April 3-5, 1990
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No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, in an electronic retrieval system or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. ISSN 0148-7191 Copyright 1990Society of Autornotlve Engineers, Inc. Positions and opinions advanced in this paper are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of SAE. Theauthor is solely responsiblefor the content of the paper. A process is available by.which discussions will be printed with the paper if it is published in SAE Transactions. For permission to publish this paper in full or in part, contact the SAE Publications Division. Persons wishing to submit papers to be ansidered for presentation or publication through SAE should send the manuscript or a 300 word abstract of a proposed manuscript to: Secretary, Engineering Activity Board, SAE.
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A Plan for Progress: The SAE Strategic Plan and Strategic Planning Process
Raymond A. Morris
SAE

Neil A. Schilke and Donald W. Ableson
General Mctcrs Corp.

ABSTRACT
While long-range planning is important to any organization, because of the constant turnover of volunteer leaders, a long-range strategic plan is crucial for maintaining continuity in a non-profit organization. SAE's strategic planning process resulted in a plan, evaluated and revised annually, which outlines the purpose, missions, and goals of the Society and describes action plans and steps necessary to achieve those goals. SAE'S exceptional growth-in all areas during the last ten years-for example, membership has grown from 37,000 in 1980 to 58,000 today-is evidence of the success of the process and the plan.

From these assumptions, the Board of Directors identified a number of implications, leading to the formulation of six recommended actions that the Board approved in 1982. During 1983, a strategic plan was developed based on the assumptions, with input from staff, the Board of Directors, and each of SAE's operating boards and committees. At its meeting in February 1984, the Board of Directors approved the first SAE Strategic Plan.
SAE Strategic Planning Process Background
1978 1980 OSPC Membership Attitude Survey 75th Anniversary Reassessment & Future Blueprinting Goals Statement (9 Challenges, 15 Required Actions) OSPC Formulation-Assumptions Af fecting SAE's Future Board approval of 6 recommended ac tions OSPC & Operating Boards & Commit tees develop Plan Board reviews, enhances Plan Board approves first SAE Strategic Plan

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BACKGROUND
SAE's strategic planning process began more than a decade ago (Fig. 1) when the Objectives & Strategic Planning Committee (OSPC) undertook an extensive Membership Attitude Survey. The survey provided a wealth of information on how members and the engineering community perceived SAE and its services. When SAE celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1980, planning for the event gave SAE's leadership the opportunity to reassess SAE's achievements in order to design a blueprint for the future. The OSPC studied documents developed over the previous 75 years that defined and interpreted SAE's purpose and objectives and evaluated them against current economic, social, and environmental trends. Using those documents, as well as the results of the member survey, the committee developed a new goals statement and identified nine challenges facing SAE and 15 actions to meet those challenges. Between 1980 and 1982, the committee generated 32 assumptions to provide a picture of the future environment in which SAE would be operating.
1980-82 Dec. 1982 1983 Dec. 1983 Feb. 1984

Fig. 1 - The process of developing SAE's first Strategic Plan began in 1978.

THE PLANNING PROCESS
In general, planning systems are tailored to the unique characteristics of the organization and its management, but they usually feature the following: some form of futuring goal-setting an action plan a review process an evaluation process At SAE, the OSPC is the focal point and clearing

NOTE: Mr. Schilke is a Past Chairman and Mr. Ableson is the current Chairman of SAE's Objectives & Strategic Planning Committee. Both are also members of SAE's Board of Directors.
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SAE Strategic Planning Process Areas of Responsibility

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Assumptions affectingSAE's future (OSPC)

SAE Strategic Plan Missions & ----) Goals (Board)

OSPC review Annual Board of SAE Annual with Boards and Directors Long Action Plan & ---) Standing Com- ) Range Planning Action Steps (Staff) mittees Seminar

Fig. 2 - Responsibility for SAE's Strategic Plan is spread throughout the organization.

house for the operating boards and committees in the planning process. The OSPC serves the Board of Directors in an advisory capacity as a long-range planning group, anticipating the changing needs and requirements of SAE, its membership, and the public, to make SAE more useful in fulfilling its purpose and objectives. In SAE's case, the futuring takes the form of the OSPC assumptions that evolve from the membership survey and the study of SAE's history. The Board of Directors establishes the purpose and missions and is the goal-setting body for SAE's Strategic Plan, with input from all of the Society's operating boards and committees. SAE staff is responsible for developing the action plans and action steps necessary to achieve the goals. The OSPC oversees the review process and makes recommendations to the Board of Directors. Again with the input of the operating boards and committees, the Board of Directors evaluates the results annually at its Long-Range Planning Seminar, and the whole cycle begins again (Fig. 2).

THE PLAN
Terminology Just as each planning process is unique to an organization, so is the terminology used. The actual terms are not as important as is the fact that everyone affected by the strategic plan must understand what each term means in the context of the plan. SAE chose the following terms:

Specific and realistic ends to be achieved. A future condition or result to be accomplished in carrying out a particular activity. The goals should implement the mission statement.(Note: The word "objective" is frequently used by some as a synonym for "goal.") Action Plan A course of action designed to accomplish a specific goal. Action Steps A series of related tasks, each to be accomplished within a specified time frame, that make up the chronological sequence and the established way of performing the work to be accomplished. Description The first edition of the strategic plan included a purpose, 11 missions, and 74 goals. In addition, a document was created for staff use that included hundreds of action plans and action steps, a timetable, and references to committee responsibilities. The current strategic plan includes a purpose, 12 missions, and 94 goals. The 12 interrelated missions of SAE can be generally grouped into four major areas: technological, organizational, political, and operational (Fig. 3).

Goal

Purpose An overall aim for being and doing, hence a fundamental reason for carrying out an activity. A statement of purpose seldom changes and provides an all-inclusive, specific answer to the question: What is the organization in business for? Mission A specific kind of purpose and activity. A more specific aim than the overall purpose and an activity which supports the purpose.

Technological Mission I: To be the world resource center for the collection, transfer and dissemination of highest quality information on mobility technology. Mission II: To generate, through cooperative engineering efforts, standards, research results and performance review programs. Mission VI: To anticipate and respond to change in mobility technology and to encourage technological innovation and implementation.

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Mission VII: To encourage, influence and enhance the formal educational process in mobility technology.
Organizational Mission Ill: To promote and provide the opportunity for SAE membership throughout the world mobility community. Mission IV: To have effective SAE local units worldwide to meet membership needs. Mission V: To market programs, services and products worldwide. Political

UPDATING THE PLAN
In addition to approving the strategic plan, the Board of Directors stated that it would be used annually as a basis for developing SAE's business plan and budget. In this process, careful consideration would be given to the management-developed individual action plans and related action steps that were intended to implement the individual goals. These action plans and steps were to be under the aegis of cognizant member groups, with staff carrying out the work. The action plans and steps were to change as needed. The 1984 document, therefore, was only a starting point (Fig. 4). The strategic planning process is an ongoing activity of SAE boards, councils, and committees, as well as its staff management, with final control by the Board of Directors. To ensure involvement by all levels of SAE members, the process incorporates input from top-level boards and committees, the grass roots or general membership, and active involvement from SAE's OSPC. Grass roots input is solicited continueadsly through normal communication channels, and approximately every three years a major member survey is conducted to: Examine the extent of member participation and involvement in SAE in perceptual and behavioral terms, Assess the general attitudes of members toward SAE, Solicit member opinions on SAE's present programs and services, Obtain opinions on major issues in mobility technology impacting on members and their need for SAE's programs and services. The results of these surveys are used by the various boards and committees in their planning and in their evaluation of the strategic plan. Since 1980, at least every other year, the OSPC has been developing and updating a set of assumptions to provide a picture of the future environment in which SAE will be operating. The assumptions represent the best estimates and vision of the committee, but because they incorporate a certain amount of conjecture, they are continuously monitored to provide updating and to revalidate their authenticity. The assumptions address five areas: technological, international, governmental, educational, and societal issues. The Board of Directors reviews the assumptions each year and develops a list of implications for SAE. In May, the updated assumptions and implications are distributed to all boards and committees

Mission VIII: To recognize and capitalize on external challenges and opportunities. Mission IX: To be involved in societal matters related to mobility technology.
Operational

Mission X: To maintain fiscal stability and viability. Mission XI: To have a staff, physical facilities and equipment which provide the continuity and capability to implement SAE's strategic plan. Mission XII: To have an elected and appointed structure which provides the leadership and capability to fulfill SAE's purpose.
Mission Areas Technological I. Information resource II. Standards development VI. Technology monitoring VI I. Education enhancement Organizational I1. Membership promotion 1 IV. Worldwide organization V. Programs marketing Political VIII. Externality response IX. Societal involvement Operational X. Fiscal stability XI. StafWfacilities XII. Electedtappointed leadership Fig. 3 - The missions of the strategic plan cover all areas of SAE responsibility.

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SAE Strategic Planning Process Implementation 1984 SAE Strategic Plan implemented OSPC Member Survey OSPC Plan Assessment with Operating Boards & Committees Engineering Executive Survey Overseas Member Survey Dec. 1984 Strategic Plan Status Review by Board Feb. 1985 Strategic Plan Revision I Approved by Board 1985 OSPC Update of Assumptions Affecting SAE's Future Action by All Operating Boards & Corn rnittees on the Strategic Plan 1986 Board Review of Updated Assumptions Board Review of Strategic Plan Action to Date Board Endorsement of Evaluation Pro cedure with Operating Boards and Committees
Fig. 4 - The planning process continued even after implementation of SAPS first strategic plan.

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perform a statistical analysis of the evaluations for each goal. This analysis produces a comparative ranking of the missions to identify ,those that are perceived as "not where they should be" and to recognize those that are "in good shape." The OSPC reports these results to the Board of Directors at its long-range planning seminar each December. This annual review by the Board has a two-fold purpose: To determine the degree and extent of accomplishment of the stated action plans, goals, and missions. To modify and/or amend the document as dictated by changing circumstances and needs. Each year at its February meeting, the Board of Directors gives final approval to a new strategic plan incorporating all changes offered and approved during the preceding year (Fig. 6). The plan is then distributed to staff and all operating boards and committees.

CONCLUSION
SAE's Strategic Plan has proven itself both in terms of process and product. The OSPC has concluded that all of the operating units of the Society have embraced the plan and that they are devoting serious attention to and making substantive progress in meeting its goals. From 1987 to 1989 the overall average rating on the self-evaluation forms has improved from 6.5 to 7.4. By focusing attention on individual goals, the strategic plan has proven to be a viable means of directing SAE's activities toward achieving the Society's larger purpose. Since the strategic plan's adoption in 1984, SAE has experienced unprecedented growth in all areas of activity covered by the plan, allowing the Society to fulfill its purpose of serving humanity by developing, collecting, and disseminating information on mobility technologies.

along with self-evaluation forms and the newly approved plan to be used as a basis for planning. The key to monitoring the plan lies in these selfevaluation forms, developed in 1986. The forms force each group to examine the current viability of each assigned goal and to determine the degree and extent of accomplishment of these goals. The form lists each goal and requests an evaluation of the progress toward achieving it on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 indicating no progress and 10 showing that the goal was met for the year (Fig 5). When returning their completed forms, groups are encouraged to suggest changes or additions to goals in their areas of responsibility. They may also suggest changes or additions to the assumptions. The forms are returned to the OSPC in September. During the next two months, OSPC members

MISSION VIII: TO RECOGNIZE AND CAPITALIZE ON EXTERNAL CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES Goal C) Anticipate and identify new and changing technological trends affecting mobility technology and respond with changes in SAE programs, products and services. Evaluation

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

1
No Progress

I
Not Where It Should Be In Good Shape Goal Met For Year

Fig. 5 - Sample item on the self-evaluation form used to monitor progress in meeting the goals of the strategic plan
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900930

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SAE Strategic Planning Process

Fig. 6 - An overview of the SAE strategic planning process

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