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Transport Canada - Aviation Safety Letter Transport Canada Civil Aviation Kicks Off the Development of a New Strategic Plan - ISSUE 4/2009

Transport Canada Civil Aviation Kicks Off the Development of a New Strategic Plan - ISSUE 4/2009

by Richard Berg M.B.A., Senior Risk Assessment Advisor, Aviation Safety Intelligence, Policy and Regulatory Services, Civil Aviation, Transport Canada

In the beginning…
Success starts as a dream; an idea or a desire to do something different, create an opportunity, or reduce risks. Success in innovation, in your career, or in managing a business always requires a strategy. The saying “those who fail to plan, plan to fail” implies that you need an action plan to get the results you want. In fact, your plan should include ways to measure progress and success, as well as ways to react to poor results and to continue to improve results. Below, you will find Transport Canada Civil Aviation’s strategic plan, which is what we used to formulate our future priorities.

Why is a strategic plan so important?
Strategic plans are blueprints that help organizations respond to new environments, reduce risks and make the most of opportunities. They are especially important during events such as economic crises or periods of explosive growth. Strategic plans set clear direction that is linked to an organization’s vision and goals. Program activities and their performance measures reflect the amount of risk the organization wishes to take. However, unknown factors and influences beyond the control of the organization will always present some degree of uncertainty for reaching expected outcomes.

For the past five years, Transport Canada Civil Aviation has had Flight 2010 as its strategic plan and is now beginning to develop its new plan looking toward 2015. This plan will embrace the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat government-wide Management Accountability Framework and will reflect government values and ethics. Its goal will be to offer the best value for Canadians today and for future generations of Canadians. Transport Canada plans to publish its new Civil Aviation strategic plan in the spring of 2010.

Six steps of strategic planning
Building a strategic plan involves:

  1. Following the planning process;
  2. Reviewing the organization’s mission and objectives;
  3. Conducting an environmental scan;
  4. Developing a strategy;
  5. Implementing the strategy;
  6. Measuring and controlling performance.

Step 1: Follow the planning process
The first thing we are doing is building our team’s commitment, outlining activities to collect necessary information, and identifying deliverables with their timelines. 

Step 2: Review the mission and objectives
This step helps our team fully understand where the organization is, and plan our next steps to achieve our vision. This lays the foundation to form a strategy and helps team members focus on what the customers/stakeholders expect the organization to deliver.

Step 3: Conduct an environmental scan
An environmental scan takes a holistic view of the organization and analyzes what has happened in the past and what is happening now, as well as brainstorming about what could happen in the future. We will use a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis tool to:

  • identify influences that could affect the organization’s bottom line;
  • consider key perspectives, namely: financial (accountability of the public purse); external stakeholders (industry/unions and associations, travelling and non-travelling public, government agencies, international community, and future generations); internal stakeholders (within Transport Canada); as well as growth and improvement, and their associated risks;
  • clearly understand how goods and services are provided; and
  • identify ways to improve safety and add value for the organization.

For an environmental scan to be effective, management has to consider our existing framework and consult with stakeholders to understand their perspectives.

Step 4: Develop a strategy
Develop an overall strategy that aligns and leverages our key strengths to achieve organizational excellence and ensure public trust and confidence. This is also based on the SWOT analysis and the organization’s vision, values, mission, and regulatory, social, and ethical responsibilities. We will use a comprehensive approach to formulate key strategic outcomes that focus on our organization’s highest priorities and highest risks.

This filtering and clustering process can be challenging if many competing interests demand priority status and resources. Management will consider perspectives from key stakeholders and accept the team’s strategy before moving on to the next step.

Step 5: Implement the strategy
Implementing the strategy will include:

  • consulting with subject-matter experts to confirm if the strategic outcomes are realistic;
  • ensuring that the organization’s resources are properly aligned and leveraged to optimize performance and minimize risk; and
  • preparing a communications strategy that informs focus groups of the upcoming changes.

Depending on outcomes, we may need to consult with other stakeholders to ensure that our strategic outcomes positively contribute to our mission and increase stakeholder acceptance.

Step 6: Measure and control performance
Develop a performance measurement framework that describes indicators, their condition, and criteria. These indicators must be measured by qualitative or quantitative measures, such as period, frequency, or public opinion, and be based on the level of risk and severity of the impact attached to them.

When controlling performance, evaluators will use these performance measures to identify the difference between the actual and the desired results. This control process will help them identify if and when corrective action is required.

When management has reviewed and accepted the proposed framework, the strategy will be implemented and posted for all to see.

In summary…
The steps above provide a transparent, systematic approach for developing and implementing our strategic plan. This plan leverages key activities within governmental policies and provides good governance practices. Using the approach described above, Civil Aviation’s 2015 strategic plan will be well designed, effectively direct resources, create the best environment to promote a safe and sustainable air transportation system, and will foster public trust and confidence for today and tomorrow.

 

This article was published by Transport Canada in TP 185E -. Reprinted with permission

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