Strategic Planning

The City Manager’s Playbook: 10 Questions Every Council Member Will Ask You

Developing a strategic plan for your municipality not only drives the achievement of strategic priorities set by Council, it also improves the decision making process for your senior leadership team and staff.

Having a strategic plan helps city managers and CAO’s communicate several key items to council and residents including:

  • Strategic priorities
  • Budget priorities
  • City and community initiatives
  • Resource allocation plans

Are you a city manager that’s considering creating and implementing a new strategic plan for your municipality? If you answered Yes, then you may want to consider some of the following questions that councillors may ask you before you begin drafting your plan.

10 questions every city manager should be prepared to answer:

  1. Why should the municipality develop a strategic plan?
  2. What is the real value of a strategic plan to Council and residents?
  3. What is Council’s role in relation to strategic planning?
  4. How does strategic planning “fit” with other types of planning like operational planning?
  5. What best practices are you going to utilize while developing a strategic plan?
  6. What does a good strategic plan look like? Do you have any examples from other municipalities?
  7. How does a strategic plan get “traction” and buy-in from the municipality’s senior leadership team and staff?
  8. How do you plan on tracking the progress of your strategic plan?
  9. How are you going to report on your plan’s progress to Council?
  10. How does Council report on the municipality’s progress to its citizens and other stakeholders?


“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else,” Yogi Berra, Baseball Legend

What now?

If you can answer these questions before approaching Council, you’re on the right track. Having a strategic plan in place will help align your team with where the municipality needs to be in the future, and what’s required to get there.


Cara Ong

Cara has over 15 years of experience in business and product management. She is a highly organized, results-driven, strategic executive and entrepreneur with a positive attitude towards work and life.

Cara is passionate about helping organizations find effective solutions and providing forward-thinking strategies to help them achieve their goals of operational efficiency.

In her free time, Cara enjoys acrylic painting and golf.

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