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Taking Command of Change:
A Practical Guide for Applying the Strategic Development Process
in State Historic Preservation Offices

Doug Eadie, President
Doug Eadie Presents!, Frisco, Texas
Web Edition 2003
(originally published in 1995 by the National Park Service and
The National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers)

Taking Command
of Change
Table of Contents
Executive Summary

1. Overview
2. Creating a Strategic Framework
3. External and Internal Environments
4. Issue Identification and Selection
5. Strategy Formulation
6. Launching a Strategic Development Process
7. You Can Do It!
8. Sources of Information on Strategic Development

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A SHPO Office’s strategic framework provides both a starting point and a context for the Strategic Development Process. You will recall that the framework consists of two key elements: a clear, detailed vision for the future, describing what the SHPO Office aspires to be over the long run, and a mission that describes the SHPO Office now, in terms of its programs/services, customers/clients, and how it delivers its services.


Vision is basically a picture of the future, and the more detailed the vision, the more useful it can be in identifying and selecting strategic issues.

Vision is without doubt both the INTELLIGENCE and the DRIVER of the Strategic Development Process. Without a clean, detailed vision as a starting point, a SHPO’s Strategic Development Process is just as apt to produce useless, as useful, results. Indeed, strategy without vision is likely to become motion without direction, and experience has taught all of us that being busy does not necessarily mean being very productive.

Unfortunately, for many nonprofit and public leaders and managers, vision has been a vague concept with little obvious utility in developing their organizations’ strategies. Its tremendous power for good has, therefore, seldom been fully realized in practice. Popularly and somewhat vaguely seen as having to do with fundamental purposes, inspiration, and motivation, vision is often used interchangeably with its close, but very different, ally – mission.


Vision is basically a picture of the future, and the more detailed the vision, the more useful it can be in identifying and selecting strategic issues. Of course, without a clear vision, a SHPO Office will have no reliable way to identify strategic issues (opportunities to narrow the gap between vision and current reality).

In doing visioning, it is important that SHPO Offices distinguish between serious planning, on the one hand, and public relations/information, on the other. While a pithy paragraph that attractively captures the essence of a SHPO Office’s vision will very likely make sense for public relations purposes, a far more detailed version is essential for internal SHPO Office planning and development purposes.

A SHPO Office can envision its future in a number of ways: in terms of VALUES, IMPACTS or IMAGE.

  • The VALUES VISION describes the SHPO Office’s most cherished beliefs and principles, relative both to its work in the wider environment and to its internal culture.
A rewarding job experience

Equitable treatment

Staff participation in decision-making

Opportunities for professional development

A collegial atmosphere


Accountability in decision-making

Preservation as a public responsibility and public trust

Spiritual values of historic preservation

Sense of place and identity

Public education

Collegiality of staff

Hard work


Prudent management of public resources


Respecting the diversity of the state’s population

Serving the public

Importance of heritage education

Improving the quality of life for present and future generations through historic preservation

Respecting and responding to our constituents’ needs

  • The IMPACT VISION describes the concrete impacts that the SHPO Office’s efforts are intended to have on its environment (e.g., the review board; federal, state, and local government agencies; the general public) – and how the world around it will be changed by its programs and activities.
Alaskans’ greater appreciation of heritage

The SHPO Office as an integral part of state policy-making

More state historic parks

More effective integration of the SHPO Office into its parent department

Respect for cultural diversity

Communities valuing historic preservation

Sense of community, continuity

Powerful, focused preservation education curriculum

Enhanced collaboration

Focused, coordinated use of resources

Increased public participation

Widespread acceptance of historic preservation in Oregon

Better understanding of preservation goals and ethic

Preservation institutionalized in land use processes

Preservation of tangible links to cultural heritage

The SHPO Office viewed as one of the top Offices in the nation

Expansion, strengthening of local government preservation programs

Enhanced respect for ethnic and cultural heritage

  • The IMAGE VISION describes how the SHPO Office wants to be seen in the years ahead by its principal stakeholders and by the wider public in its state.
The place to come if interested in historic preservation

Protector and advocate for the essence of what Alaska is and was

Repository of expertise and knowledge on historic preservation

Reliable and predictable

Friendly and cooperative


Having "pizazz"

Essential to the state’s economic well-being

Can-do agency that gets the job done

Easy to understand

Resource for information, education, guidance, criteria, and standards for heritage protection




Catalysts for change

Respectful, open to ideas of others

Accessible and responsive


Businesslike, but not fixated on being a business

The state’s preservation leader

Advocates of preservation issues

Significant player in state government in terms of influence and clout

Responsive and accessible to the various publics we serve

Flexible yet firm in our beliefs

Focused on the issues that make a difference in people’s lives

Innovative, talented, professional public servants that are doing vital work



How are vision and mission different, and how do they work together in the strategic development process? If vision is a multi-faceted picture of a SHPO Office’s desired future, its mission is a detailed description of the SHPO Office NOW, in terms of its customers and clients, its products and services, and the roles it plays and technologies it employs (Figure 3). Vision and mission are not only different in content, they also serve completely different purposes. Vision is intended to inspire and motivate a SHPO Office and to guide it in selecting strategic issues. Mission is more a disciplinary tool, establishing clear boundaries and fighting the "headless chicken" syndrome (Figure 4). Vision moves a SHPO Office in new directions, and mission keeps it from losing its head in willy nilly diversification.

Over time, if a SHPO Office seriously employs the strategic development process, the vision will cause mission to change. Strategic issues in the form of barriers and opportunities will inevitably be identified to close the gap between long-range aspirations (the SHPO Office vision) and what the SHPO Office is right now (the SHPO Office mission). Vision will force possibilities to be raised, while mission will force second thoughts and resist undue haste. Without a clear, detailed mission, a SHPO Office will be in much greater danger of falling victim to the "everything to everybody" syndrome. However, a clear mission that is not pressured by a strong expansive vision can lead to a hardening of the SHPO Office’s arteries and its eventual obsolescence.

Figure 4





The Kansas planning team saw three categories of "primary" customers as a component of its mission:

  • "General public" customers include property owners, owners with future involvement (National Register listing and preservation grants), adjoining property owners, consulting professionals, and developers. These customers receive products and services: technical assistance, academic information, National Register nomination guidance, education, review and compliance advice, grant assistance, tax credits, and access to resources and information.

  • "Government" customers include the National Park Service, other federal agencies, state government departments, and county and city governments. The products and services provided to this group include reports, review and compliance advice, grant assistance, planning assistance, contract archaeology, education, and program agreements.

  • "Nonprofit organizations" include a diverse group, such as local and county historical societies, the Kansas Anthropological Association, regional planning commissions, neighborhood associations, the Unmarked Burial Board, the Kansas Historic Sites Board of Review, and the Antiquities Commission, among others. These organizations generally receive the products and services already noted.
As part of its mission exercise, the Alaska planning team identified a number of essential functional capabilities, including: "networking" and "coordinating," "interpreting regulations," building and maintaining databases, "mediation" and "conflict resolution," professional expertise, communication, planning, contracting, and facilities management.


The six SHPO Offices that participated in the "Managing for the Year 2000" Initiative fashioned detailed vision and mission statements over the course of intensive one-and-one-and-one-half-day strategic work sessions in a retreat setting. All six SHPO Offices subsequently identified strategic issues and fashioned action strategies to address them. Although the original rough visions and missions were eventually refined and condensed for public consumption, they had already served a powerful internal development purpose for all of the six offices.

The detailed visions were fashioned by brainstorming groups early in the first day of the SHPO Office retreats. The groups took a free-flowing approach to their job, inviting active participation and avoiding formal consensus techniques. In the process of fashioning vision statements, participants not only enriched their understanding of each other’s programs, they also gained new appreciation for each other’s perspectives and viewpoints and built a stronger foundation for future teamwork.


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