Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia


Strategic planning

The International Peer Review presented seven recommendations in relation to strategic planning. Their overarching perspective in terms of the construct of a strategic plan was that such a plan should be comprehensive and chart the course of Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust over an extended period of time.

In the IPRís view, the overriding issue for the organisation is the need to create a cohesive organisation from a series of apparently disparate parts, which would require developing a shared purpose (mission), vision and brand.

The IPR observed several challenges facing the organisation and prepared a series of specific recommendations.

Recommendation 1

The Trust needs to develop an achievable corporate plan with clear deliverables and measurable targets as a top priority. The Trust needs to engage a coalition of planning firms (strategic planning, branding, masterplanning, business development and fundraising) in order to facilitate the planning process. One firm should then be selected to co-ordinate and lead the process. The process should include all key staff and key stakeholders.

This process needs to begin with answering the questions of:

  • Who are we?
  • What are we?
  • What do we want to be?

It is the IPRís view that when these questions are answered they can be applied to all aspects of the organisationís planning and operations.


The Trust agrees in principle with the thrust of this primary recommendation in relation to strategic planning and the need to develop a new corporate plan as a top priority. In acknowledgement of its importance, a Strategic Planning Committee has been established under the leadership of the Executive Director, with wide representation across the organisation.

The strategic planning process commenced in January 2012, facilitated by Dr Vince Murdoch of Egan Associates on a pro bono basis and in this context both Dr Murdoch and the Executive Director, Professor Mabberley, will consult regularly with the Chair of the Trust, Mr Greg Martin.

The Strategic Planning Committee will report to the Trust Board at their February, April and June meetings with the objective of substantially completing the strategic plan for tabling and approval at the June meeting (see timeline).

Recommendation 2

New Position - Director of Planning, this position would lead the process of consultant selection and facilitate the ensuing planning process. He/She would then oversee the implementation of the resulting plans. The Director of Planning would report to the Executive Director.


In establishing a Strategic Planning Committee and embarking on a thorough review and planning process, the Trust believes that the appropriateness of this recommendation will emerge either during or at the conclusion of the initial work of the Committee and in the Trustís review of the Committeeís work and recommendations.

Recommendation 3

Once the plan is in place, shorter term - 1 to 3 year - operational plans with measurable objectives should be formulated. These plans should form the basis for the structure of staff reports and meetings, trustee meeting agendas and annual reports. They should also be used as the basis for staff, committee and trustee evaluations.


In principle the Trust agrees with this recommendation. Focus and priority will again emerge from the work of the Strategic Planning Committee.

Recommendation 4

A key position is developed to oversee all projects.

Recommendation 5

Project teams are assembled by the Executive Director

Recommendation 6

Policies and procedures are developed for all internal projects and purchases of equipment that can be used by the public

Recommendation 7

Establish a committee of building and landscape experts to review projects and report to the Trustees.


The Trustees concur in principle with Recommendations 4 through to 7.

As all questions raised in the brief to the IPR were not able to be addressed during the timeframe of the International Peer Review, which was both intense and diverse in its coverage, many of those issues will be addressed by the Strategic Planning Committee and, as a consequence, be embraced in a report tabled for the Trustís review and consideration.

The Trustís responses to the Recommendations have been in part influenced by the organisationís budget restraints in 2012.