Developing a strategic plan for large initiatives or facilities

Strategic planning is critical for large initiatives or facilities because it sets priorities, focuses energy and resources, and strengthens…

Strategic planning is critical for large initiatives or facilities because it sets priorities, focuses energy and resources, and strengthens operations, with a focus on the future. It ensures that the management committee, the facility’s Board of Directors (where applicable), employees and other stakeholders work toward common goals, that they establish agreement around intended outcomes, and adjust directions in response to changing environments. Effective strategic planning articulates not only the directions and the actions needed to make progress, but also the measures of success.

There is no single methodology or framework for how to do successful strategic planning. The process will differ depending on the size and nature of the initiative or the facility. However, there are some good practices related to the development of strategic plans that have proven effective, regardless of the specifics of the initiative or facility. These include:

  • Having a thorough understanding of the external environment (e.g. key trends and issues related to regulatory, economic, social and technological aspects, opportunities, threats) as well as internal capabilities and weaknesses;
  • Conducting scenario or contingency analysis to fully understand the implications (i.e. risk) of the above factors;
  • Ensuring that the management committee, Board (where applicable), staff and key stakeholders are engaged and are fully committed to the process (i.e. everyone understands their role and responsibilities in the process);
  • Ensuring that an update of the strategic plan is not conducted simply based on timing requirements (e.g. every five years), but is also conducted when facing significant changes (e.g. changes in regulations or legislation, technological developments, management changes);
  • Ensuring the plan is realistic, measurable and achievable.

Here's how one facility has implemented these practices.

Jonathan Bagger, Former Director, TRI-University Meson Facility (TRIUMF)

At the Major Science Initiatives Fund (MSIF) Workshop organized by the CFI in October 2015, Jonathan Bagger, then the Director at TRIUMF, shared a set of good practices related to the committee tasked with developing a strategic plan for an organization. These practices are based on his longstanding experience with strategic planning. They include ensuring that the committee:

  • Has a well-defined mandate,
  • Has a broad-based membership (representation from various scientific communities, various countries, etc.),
  • Consults with many stakeholders and the community using a variety of methods,
  • Reaches consensus and is able to defend its decisions, and
  • Develops a plan that is inspiring, realistic and achievable.

To learn more about this, consult this extract of the presentation made by Dr. Jonathan Bagger at the 2015 MSIF workshop.

TRIUMF is Canada’s national laboratory for particle nuclear physics and accelerator-based science. It is owned and operated by a university consortium.


Reiner Kruecken
Deputy Director, Research
Telephone: 604 222-7365
Email: reinerk [at]


Related topics

Managing risk in large initiatives or facilities
Managing user access for large initiatives or facilities