Heartland Energy launches strategic planning initiative

March 6, 2024

As the electric utility industry continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, Heartland Energy is launching a comprehensive strategic planning initiative aimed at fortifying its position as an industry leader.

With a vast number of changes, challenges and choices facing public power utilities today, it is imperative to assess the utility’s current standing, identify emerging opportunities, and mitigate potential challenges.

“Strategic planning is important to ensure the company is making day-to-day decisions with a greater vision in mind,” said Heartland Energy CEO Russell Olson.

Strategic planning involves evaluating a company’s strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities facing the organization, along with threats. This evaluation helps determine long-term goals along with strategies to achieve those goals.

“Having a plan in place makes our company proactive, instead of reactive,” added Olson. “It guides our decision making process when opportunities or threats arise.”

The initiative is set to engage key stakeholders including Heartland Energy customers, fostering collaboration.

The process will result in the definition of a compelling purpose for the organization, identifying the most important strategies for success and focusing employee talents on what matters most.

Heartland Energy has retained the services of Mark McCain, executive consultant/strategic planning for Hometown Connections, Inc. (HCI) to guide the strategic planning process.

“Having an outside consultant like Mr. McCain is invaluable,” Olson said. “It’s important to have not only someone with strategic planning expertise, but someone with an outside perspective who can help guide the process objectively.”

HCI has extensive experience developing strategic plans specifically for public power utilities. With a proven work plan suitable for municipal utilities of all sizes, HCI guides utilities through the process of deciding on the most important strategies for success.


The Process

The strategic planning process can take many forms.

Working with McCain, Heartland Energy will utilize a four-phase process which includes brainstorming, ranking, shortlisting and deciding.

McCain will work with staff to devise potential goals and strategies through both an online survey and meetings. Staff and board members will then rank those through an online survey and develop a shortlist. Ultimately, the board of directors will decide, with staff input, on the final mission, vision, values, goals and strategies at an in-person workshop facilitated by McCain.

Customers will also be invited to participate through surveys.

“We were intrigued by HCI’s approach to the planning process,” Olson said. “Gone are the days of flip charts and group think. Their process will encourage thoughtful discussion, encourage input and set the stage for success.”

Heartland Energy aims to develop a roadmap that not only addresses immediate challenges but also positions the organization for sustained success in the long term.

The strategic plan will be finalized in June with a presentation to customers at the Summer Conference in July.