No tool is appropriate for every conceivable job. Even a trusty Swiss Army knife occasionally encounters a task beyond its capabilities. However, the right tool used at the right time can often produce powerful results. Our self-evaluation checklists are designed to help state arts agencies at any point in their planning process to consider a number of elements that we have discovered in most successful strategic plans.

The lists include many items, some of which may not be germane to your particular planning situation. We have provided you with a large latitude of possibilities and encourage you to alter the lists in ways that make them more useful to your agency. A ratings grid allows you to look at each item and rank it as either "strong," "adequate," "weak" or "n/a" ("not applicable"). Though these ratings may provide helpful reference points, don't stop there. Use them to spark discussion about ways in which your agency can make the most of its planning.

An opportune moment to introduce these tools is before you start planning. The kit provides a way to "begin with the end in mind"—to bring a group of people together to discuss all the elements of a planning process before you set sail, and to see if you can reach consensus on key issues from the outset. It is also a convenient way to assess your plan and planning process after it is complete, so that you can make corrections where necessary and be all the more prepared for your next plan.

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