Beginning in 2018, ODWC launched a strategic planning initiative to define what we're aiming for, and the target(s) is clearly in sight for the next 5 years. This plan was built on a solid foundation and robust process of engaging ODWC Commissioners, ODWC leadership, all agency staff and front-line stakeholders with a focus on ensuring the plan becomes the way we work, which ultimately provides the greatest benefits to Oklahoma’s resources and outdoor users.
- 6 agency meetings held throughout the State.
- Three surveys to employees
- 1 stakeholder survey (38 stakeholders) and 1 stakeholder round table
The agency developed a new mission statement as part of the strategic planning process to focus on the most critical pieces of the Wildlife Department’s duties and vision:
We manage and protect fish and wildlife, along with their habitats, while also growing our community of hunters and anglers, partnering with those who love the outdoors, and fostering stewardship with those who care for the land.
The strategic planning process resulted in 4 overarching goals, 17 objectives, 85 strategies.
Year 1 of strategic plan implementation was ambitious, with a focus on 14 of the most critical strategies. Strategies were assigned a team lead, who then developed a team of employees to develop action. Here are highlights of our agency’s accomplishments during the first year:
Maintain and enhance fish and wildlife resources; embrace new and existing partnerships aligned with our Mission.
- The Flowing into the Future team was tasked with encouraging enforcement of statewide water quality standards and promoting the implementation of instream flow management according to the best scientific data. Staff were surveyed to identify the most pressing water quality issues in Oklahoma, and the team developed an instream flow communication plan to help build awareness and understanding of the topic.
- The Stewarding our Lands team developed a Wildlife Management Area Management Plan template that identified goals, objectives, management needs, strategies, and accomplishments. Written plans using this template have been completed for all WMAs. The team has shifted to identifying and building GIS components for each WMA plan. Once data entry is completed for the GIS features, a dashboard component will be developed as a user friendly platform for viewing data by WMA, region, or even on a statewide basis.
Provide employees with appropriate equipment, technology and training; recruit, retain and reward a diverse and fully-engaged workforce.
- The Rewarding Excellence team was tasked with evaluating compensation packages and employee duties. The team developed six recommendations to update pay policies and review employee pay grades and pay scales.
- The Listening for Change team focused on encouraging more and better communication within and between divisions and settled on an option to replace the central information storage and sharing platform (aka, the Intranet). The team successfully developed and launched a new hub for information sharing called the Terminal of All Data (TOAD), a name selected through an all-employee naming contest. TOAD will include easier to find/update sections for forms, documents and will include links to applications like Suggestion OX, vehicle log, etc.
- The Removing Paper Obstacles team sought to streamline paperwork so employees can spend more time working on what matters most. The team identified all of the paper processes in the agency, transferred three internal forms to electronic processes, and continues to explore holistic paperless solutions for larger efforts like digital timesheets and electronic signatures.
- The Attracting Top Talent team focused on reviewing job descriptions and requirements to ensure the agency gets the best of the best in new employees. The team reviewed, updated, and standardized all job descriptions, as well as writing an addendum to our job descriptions that was developed to use when announcing jobs that tells a little more about ODWC, our mission, and goals.
- The Building a Team Culture team focused on holding employees accountable to ODWC’s values by incorporating these values into PMPs. The team built the agency’s values into the PMP process and launched the revised form for the 2020 PMP cycle.
- The Leading with Purpose team focused on how to establish agency leaders that are equipped and expected to lead by example. The team developed a basic framework for a multi‐level approach to leadership development and held a 1-day training for upper management to understand how to manage change during a strategic planning process.
Ensure financial responsibility and sustainability.
- The Aiming for the Target team was tasked with identifying agency program goals and how we will evaluate them for performance. The team developed a two-step program evaluation tool for ODWC programs, the first step focused on program leads to identify goals and metrics and the second step focused on evaluation of stated goals and metrics.
- The Spending Wisely team focused on aligning budgets with strategic priorities on an annual basis. The team is reviewing expenditures to ensure they meet the agency’s mission and working on moving the budget process to a new electronic, more accessible system.
- The Finding New Resources team sought solutions to broaden financial support from partners, NGOs, and new sources aligned with our mission. The team developed an evaluation tool and ranked new revenue ideas suggested by employees. Using the rankings, the team recommended the top projects for the agency to pursue for new sources of revenue.
Recruit, retain, and reactivate (R3) hunters, anglers, sport-shooters, boaters and non-traditional customers; improve public recognition and support for our agency employees as fish and wildlife experts; and increase access to aquatic and wildlife related recreational opportunities.
- The Boosting Communication Impact team set their sights on tracking and reporting for targeted and effective communications.The team identified the need for all communication efforts to develop goals, objectives and metrics for tracking efforts. The team also focused on increasing our presence at outdoor events. Initial participation in these events garnered the Department $11K in sales of products and licenses.
- The Laying out the Welcome Mat team was tasked with identifying ways to make our properties more user-friendly and identifying priorities for new land purchases. The team developed standards for infrastructure improvements and revised the land acquisition recommendation form to provide a better framework for proposed land acquisitions.
- The Seeking the Next Generation team worked to ensure that the agency continues as a national leader in R3 (recruiting, retaining and reactivating hunters and anglers). The team developed and put into action an extensive agency-wide R3 plan focusing on opportunities to super charge existing Department programs. The agency now has both a fishing and hunting R3 coordinator on staff. The team also developed a Request for Proposal to assist the agency in unifying and building on the agency’s brand awareness and public recognition.
We’re never done. Just as hitting the bullseye takes continual planning and practice, so too does perfecting our work at ODWC require constant effort. It’s a way of life -- a new way to work.
Having a plan provides the structure needed to adapt to changing conditions without falling short of the mark. And we know that planning is one thing and executing is another - at some point, you have to let it fly downrange.
These accomplishments only represent a sampling of the strides made during our first year of implementing strategic plan initiatives, and they did not happen without an agency-wide commitment to planning, prioritizing, and executing. This first year we sought to tackle some of the most important, yet challenging topics for our agency. We learned that in many cases, these initiatives are long term and require ongoing effort by staff while several other initiatives have been checked off the list as “complete”.
More than ever, we’re optimistic about our future and the rising stock of what is quickly becoming one of the nation’s best outdoor destinations. As we adjust to a more purposeful and precise way of doing business over the next few years, we will continue to hit more targets, thus building our confidence and our ability to develop Oklahoma into a top ten destination for all things outdoors.