The NC Forest Service (NCFS) began its strategic planning process in November 2010 with the first meeting of the statewide strategic planning committee held at the Mountain Training Facility in Crossnore. From the onset, we envisioned a strategic plan that would guide all who wear the NCFS patch and a commitment was made to involve every NCFS employee in the process.
Significant progress was made at this first planning session as the committee assessed our agency's history, current situation and relationship with partners and stakeholders, reviewed our legislative mandates and authorities, reviewed strategic plans from other agencies and organizations, and began exploring our core values, mission, and vision for the future. Individual district and field office meeting were then organized to share this progress and obtain input from all employees.
In March, 2011, the statewide strategic planning committee held its second session at the Ralph Winkworth Training Center at Region 1 Headquarters. At this meeting, input from the first round of district and field office meetings was reviewed and incorporated into a draft plan and we continued our self-assessment through a comprehensive SWOT analysis of our agency's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges. We then began formulating key goals, strategic objectives and supporting actions. Immediately following this session, our strategic planning process was halted as our entire workforce was summoned to respond to the historic wildfires that occurred during the spring-summer of 2011. District and field office meetings were resumed beginning in the fall of 2011 to present the draft plan from March 2011 and again obtain input from all employees. On July 1, 2011, the NC Forest Service was transferred from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA).
In July, 2012, the statewide strategic planning committee met again for the third time at the Stanford M. Adams Training Center at Jordan Lake Educational State Forest. By this time, the NCFS had participated in development of the draft NCDA strategic plan. In this departmental plan, the NCFS is featured as a stand-alone functional area and the NCFS section drew heavily on the progress already made on the NCFS strategic plan during the 2010-2012 timeframe. NCFS management decided to design the final NCFS plan around the general structure of the NCDA plan so that the two plans would synchronize. Further refinement of the NCFS strategic plan continued through the fall of 2012.
When we began the process of formulating this plan, we wanted to make sure we focused on our legislative mandates and improving the NCFS. We believe our new mission statement gets to the core of our mandates in protecting, managing, and promoting forest resources in the state. The idea behind the objectives and action items is not to add programs to our already full plate, but to improve on our ongoing efforts and our ability to do the job. That is why many of the action items included were items we had been working on at some level, but needed to focus our attention on completing or improving that area. Through a steady effort of completing the action items to meet the objectives and goals, we will naturally improve the quality and perhaps the quantity of work we do for the citizens in North Carolina. The measures are simply a way of recording and highlighting the good work done in these various areas each day. These measures do not capture all NCFS does in the various program areas, but the plan was not intended to cover all the programs in the NCFS toolbox that are used to deliver services across the state.
Use of the Plan
Over the next three years, we will utilize the strategic plan to focus efforts to improve the NCFS and meet our mission. In carrying out our daily work, we are all expected to exhibit the values we have agreed to in our plan. By completing action items we hope to reach the various objectives and meet our six major goals. By improving our efforts through completion of action items and reporting our efforts through the measures, we will be better prepared with the information we need to acquire funding and resources needed to accomplish our mission. Strategic planning is critical to improving any organization. As we near the end of these 3 years, we will evaluate our plan and make any changes needed to continue moving us forward.
How Do You Fit In?
This is a STRATEGIC PLAN, not a TACTICAL PLAN. The Lead on action items are simply the conduit for gathering information and input necessary to formulate the tactics to accomplish the action item or report how the employees at all levels developed ways to accomplish action items to meet objectives and goals. The six major goals are not prioritized, leaving it to the local level to assess local needs and prioritize accordingly. Each county or field unit should work on a few priority objectives and action items each year that best fits the local need and improves our services the most. We understand that not all field units can increase measures in each single category. You may be doing all you can do in some areas. Focus should be on those areas that can be increased and will best meet the local need for our services. In short, we hope you see this as YOUR strategic plan that can be put into action at the local level. Whether it is self improvement, career improvement, or improvement of our particular field of endeavor, we all work towards continuous improvement. This strategic plan is focused on improving what is already one of, if not the best forestry agencies in the nation. We look forward to seeing the improvement we can make in the next 3 years.