Getting Dynamic: How to Recalibrate Your Strategic Plan for 2024
DonorPerfect Community Conference 2023 session with speaker Sandra Allen
Getting Dynamic: How to Recalibrate Your Strategic Plan for 2024 TranscriptPrint Transcript
Before I introduce our next speaker, if I could point you in the direction of our poll section, on the right hand side polls looks like a little chart that’s over there. There’s a few questions that our speaker would like you to answer first. So if you could point Read More
Before I introduce our next speaker, if I could point you in the direction of our poll section, on the right hand side polls looks like a little chart that’s over there. There’s a few questions that our speaker would like you to answer first. So if you could point your direction over to the polls while I introduce our next speaker, founder of the all women nonprofit consulting firm, Almora advisors Sandra is a trusted advisor in the nonprofit sector, dynamically engaged in organizational design, leadership development, strategic planning, sustainable fundraising, board governance, and executive coaching. She champions a tailored approach that leverages best practices in the design of each nonprofits direction. Senator draws on her past experience, serving in leading on trustee boards, including at the National Domestic Violence Hotline as chair, the Columbia University Alumni trustee committee, the Lawrenceville school, the shelter for women and children and the water shed introduce Institute. Without further ado, I give you your speaker, Sandra Allen.
Hi, thank you so much for having me here. Today, we’re really going to get dynamic with strategic planning today. Just wanted to share with you a little bit about myself what you’ve heard Oh, so much here my details, please feel free to connect with me or you know, email me any questions you may have from the presentation, happy to answer happy to help you. But let’s get started today. We have the poll questions, I hope you’ll answer them. And then hopefully, we’ll get some answers to know where we are with our crowd today. What I want to do is take you back to my childhood road trips with my parents, were Cuban Cuban immigrant family never really had a destination and basically spent all our time lost. I don’t want that to happen with you. That’s why strategic planning is so important to me, I really want you to know where you’re going. And as Yogi would say, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else. So let’s start talking about this process. Key components to teacher planning is partnership, I can’t say this enough, it’s really important that we have a good combination between the organization really knowing who and who is responsible for the strategic planning, knowing on the board, who’s going to be the liaison with the organization really focusing as a strategic planning chair, and also the consultant. What does that relationship look like? We want to make sure that relationship has all the pieces put together so that their success, once we work to really develop a really strong working relationship, then we move forward. What do we do we are exploring, I’ll talk a little bit about what exploration looks like. We’re really looking at your expectations. I can tell you that. We want to understand what do you want out of a strategic planning process? The other part is, is your organization ready? That’s a really important part. Is your organization ready? Is the organization really willing to take the time to focus on this plan? Too many times I hear about, we went through the strategic planning process, it’s sitting on the shelf, we didn’t really do anything with it. Well, I can’t have that. That’s that’s just to me, like Why spend the time if you’re not going to use your plan. One of the things I think, as we look at plans is really looking at the key component of what has worked and what hasn’t. I have a client who, you know, they had done a three year strategic plan. And you know, then they were looking for new consultants. So we came in and you know, they liked our proposal, they decided they wanted to work with us. But what we did was talk to them about what didn’t work from the last plan because they said it fell flat, we’ve we didn’t really achieve what we were planning to achieve. So we talked about that. We talked about specifically what that looked like and what was missing, so that we could really get a good understanding of what we needed to do. And what we did with their new plan was to incorporate all the pieces that they had been missing. One of the things that they had not had was like a budget for the plan, and I couldn’t understand how could you go through a whole plan without a budget to know if you have the financials to cover the what’s in the plan? So we incorporated that, and they’ve been just such happy with how this plan has worked for them. Once we’re figuring out the plan, then we have to look at what’s the team look like? Each component of the team needs to have a purpose. So I really tell my clients, I say, the first thing you need to do is, what’s the role? And what is each person that you bring on that committee? What is their role? What are they bringing to the organization? What are what do you need them to do? And what is their specific role. So we choose some educating here too, because clearly, the role of a senior staff member versus a staff member versus a board member, they’re all different. And we like to take all those pieces into consideration as we’re creating this team. Because we want the team to be diverse, we want to hear from different perspectives. And the process that we create is very interactive. So we want to hear from all the voices. And one of the things that I think a lot of people leave out. And I recommend that when you’re doing your strategic planning process, don’t forget about external stakeholders, maybe people served partners, you know, really incorporate them into your strategic strategic planning process. If they can be part of the committee, that’s great, but if not, I’ll talk a little bit about how you can incorporate them. So here we are, we’re now going to look at creating your plan. This is like a plan that needs to be unique to your organizational needs. A lot of organizations when I start working with them, they start telling me, Well, what have you done before, let me look at what you what plans you have, let me look at your template. And I say to them, I’m like, sure, I do know what the process looks like. I’ve been doing this for a long time. So I clearly have a plan. But I say to them, I want to know what you need. Because it’s so individual, I don’t think it’s right to say, here’s my plan, here’s my process, I’m just going to adapt it and put it you know, and make you each take that plant that process and go with it. It doesn’t work that way. So what I like to do is really understand your organization, understand your potential, your your needs, your potential concerns, you know, what could be some issues for you do a lot of work, figuring that out, looking at what priorities are important to you, we call them dimensions. But we really will talk a little bit about what those dimensions can look like. We then incorporate all these thinking all this what you’ve done all of anything that you’ve had PLAs plans, all that information, to really build out your work, the workshops for the strategic planning process. In those workshops, we really do a lot of breakout groups where we’re working hand in hand with you to develop these pieces. One of the things that I like to talk about is that we can do this equally virtually, or we can do it in person. And we’ve we’ve done a very weird through COVID, we had to do everything virtual, so we’re very adept at doing it in a virtual world, and still making it feel interactive. I have a lot of my clients when I tell them, Okay, we’re going to need to do I like to do about three workshops, three hours for the, you know, time, and they say, oh my gosh, three hours, that’s so long, we’re not going to be able to do that. And what’s interesting, what I love is that, because it’s so interactive, everybody’s like, wow, that went by so fast. Can we have a little more time we want to work on you know, a little bit more things. So it’s really wonderful to have that. You know, people enjoying it and feeling really good. And one of the things that I want you to know that we become your trusted advisor, your sounding board. It’s really nice because we’re not a board member. We’re not on your staff. We’re not one of your stake or external stakeholders. So it’s really good for us to be an outsider’s perspective to really be that sounding board for you.
Okay, now we’re ready. We’re gonna launch the process. And this is one of the most exciting pieces of our, of our work. So how do I like to do that? One of the things I like to do is communicate communicate communicate, I cannot say that enough, we start off by really encouraging you to, you know, own this, you know, we recommend taking taking the name. So I have a great organization that they wanted to make a big celebration in their office around, you know, the launch of their of their strategic plan. And you know, when it had been when they were starting the work, and they really came up with their name, they called the blueprint 2026. And they were so excited about this. So it really gives that piece of ownership, that peace of like we’re in this together. And I think that’s a really good way to communicate about the plan, we do a lot of educating. So I think a lot of the things that we do is educating about the process, because not everyone understands strategic planning, and not everyone understands their roles. So we do a lot about saying to the board members, you’re in the strategic part. And we say, the organization is going to be doing the action plans, and we’ll talk about them later. So you’re not going to be getting into that piece of working on the action plans. So just got to understand what your role is for strategic planning. And we also talked to the organization about saying, it’s the board’s role to approve this plan. So you know, that has to be their role, because they’re providing that strategic direction. So one of the things that I also like to do here is remind people again, to talk about how people are participating how you’ve involved all, all different people to be part of this plan. And also, why again, repeating Why was someone selected to the strategic planning committee and who wasn’t selected? Why weren’t they selected? What’s the role? And what expertise do they bring into, into the strategic planning process. One of the things also that I do is drive to as we’re involving as many stakeholders as possible is maybe pulling someone in to one part of it. So maybe if you have someone who has a real communications background, maybe you pull them into the communications piece, and they don’t have to be part of the whole process. So he’s including as many people as you can, but yet making it manageable. I had an organization where one of the staff members said, well, it was pretty big organization. And he said, Well, why isn’t the entire organization part of these workshops as part of the strategic plan, and I said, it’s really not very manageable to have hundreds and hundreds of people working on the strategic plan. So I just tried to explain how we pick select people to represent the organization represent the board. So let’s talk a little bit about the components of our strategic planning process. These are things that you will see in most strategic plans. And one of the things I emphasize and if you’re not using this, I would highly recommend when you’re going to do your strategic plan to incorporate the stakeholders perspective, lots of ways to do that, interviews, surveys, focus groups, I usually recommend that we use them all. And then what I do is I’d say, Okay, let me have a list of who you think you might want, then tell me or they interview or they survey or they focus groups, and we kind of just decide who’s doing what you know, for each piece. And then, you know, the questions I give a list of like, questions, I think, are really usually asked. But what I do is like, this is our starting point. So you know, pick some questions here that you might like, we can tweak those questions, or I can create specific questions just for you. Because these are your questions, you want the answers from this. And we’re working now with a client. And we we do a lot of check ins as we’re doing the stakeholder piece. So we’ll come you know, come into the meeting. And we’ll sort of say these are the themes we’re seeing. And it’s so interesting, and I love how the client will say, Wow, that’s exactly what I expected or Wow, I’m so surprised. And I’m so pleasantly surprised people are thinking about that. Or sometimes they’re like, Wow, we never really thought about that. So it’s really a big important piece of your strategic planning process to bring in all these different perspectives, because that’s where you can get perspectives from the entire organization without having, you know hundreds of people joining joining your strategic planning session. We like to do a SWOT for the staff. So strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. We like to do that for the staff when we also do it during the workshop, because it’s nice to see how they look what’s different, what you know what’s the same, and we analyze that data. As I said, our workshops are interactive, really interactive, because that’s the way we get the really hard work happening is a good starting point. So let’s talk a little bit about your dimensions. So these are the focus areas that we generally say, as a starting point, these are the things that we look at, you know, and what we say is, this is our starting point. But you can decide which ones resonate for you, and which ones you would like to add that are specific. So I had an organization that really wanted to focus on a lot on wellness. So they created a dimension that was really around wellness for the staff. And that was important to them, they that particular organization had just finished their mission vision values. So I’m not gonna say let’s do that, again, they just did it. So we didn’t do mission vision values, they incorporated wellness as one of their, their dimensions. And they’ve been working on their plan. And they’ve been so happy that they were able to have the specifics, and they did a lot of changing around of the different dimensions that, you know, came from the starting point, but they made it their own. And that’s what’s important. That’s why it’s so relevant to them. As they’re implementing their plan that it’s it’s really what they wanted. Another organization that I had, they really, we started with diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and accessibility as one of their dimensions. But what happened was, the staff realized, they didn’t want that to be part of the strategic planning process, in the way that it was incorporated into it, they wanted to pull it out, they wanted to, you know, have that bit separate. So what we did was, we pulled it out, we have that as a separate piece where we did a lot more deeper dive, and a lot of listening sessions and incorporate it that way. And they really were pleased that we heard them. And we heard what came out of the survey, because it came out of the survey. And what we did was we said, Wait, let’s pull this out, let’s do it a little differently. And what I said was, but we’re still going to incorporate this, which is what we always do into all the different components, we bring that in as part of what we’re looking at.
I want to share, this is one of my clients. And I want to share a little bit about how we work through this process. So we start by looking at what their what their, you know, what their mission is, what are the pieces of their mission that are important to them. So if they have an existing mission, we analyze it, we educate them about what we think are the, you know, Goldstar missions, we show them examples. And we really do a lot of work to get them to come up with some of the things that are important. And they spend a lot of time on this because for example, in this particular thing, they spent a lot of time about picking the right words, because some of the words that they had selected, I was able to tell them from the outside perspective, I don’t think anyone’s going to understand that word, because it’s something that is in your vocabulary, but it’s not in everyone. So we talked about that. And we talked about what you know what local communities meant. So we really went back and forth, and really dig deep to find the right words. And then when we able to do that, we talked about the vision in the way of saying, if you could accomplish your mission, what would the world look like and we sort of focus on that and they kind of come up with this as their vision. And you know, they feel really good about the process because it’s so interactive. Then, just want to talk a little bit about how we look at values. I love word clouds. They’re really they’re really inspiring to kind of start the process. Seen word clouds go different ways for share my meals is their word cloud. They actually used a lot of the words that they came up with their big words into there, you’ll you’ll see their values shortly, but they use them. I’ve had many organizations that none of the big words end up being their words. And the reason why the big words become larger is because more and more people are using them in the organization. So they put them into the word cloud. significant number of times. So in the situation where the these little words that are around, we look at them, because we say, oh, maybe we can use them to define the value, or maybe they become the actual value. So I’m going to show you how they ended up with theirs. And I always talk about what I love is, you know, because it’s so nice, I always go at the end, once they’ve created everything as it does feel like you. And if it doesn’t, if it doesn’t feel like your organization, let’s start from scratch. And the thing I love when I share my meals is joy is always like, wonderful to see that they selected that because it is so representative of who they are. One of the things that is a little bit of a fun piece to do is that unique value proposition and you know, you at first, when people hear it, it’s like, you know, there’s a little bit like what, and then and then they start really listing everything. So you’re overwhelmed by the list in paragraphs, so how have why they’re so unique. But what we do is say, Okay, this is a donor centric piece, this is something where you’re going you’re talking to a donor, so how do you define that in, you know, in three short pieces, so it was exciting to see that it gets ends up in this place. And it’s a very interesting process working through that. So I want to talk about another dimension, which is development, and development, you know, is a really interesting piece where, when I start and you know, we do collect a lot of that, you know, when we’re talking about that tailored approach, where we’re collecting the information, we get a lot of your history, and we ask sometimes, okay, can I have, like your three year history of what you’ve done over the last three years in fundraising in your for your annual fund or for your major donors, and sometimes I get organizations that say, Well, we have it on an Excel spreadsheet, and you know, Rick has it and you know, Samantha has it, so we have to get it from everyone and put it together. So we get like, you know, six emails with different pieces trying to figure out where they are. So we really say it’s really important. You have a system in place, like DonorPerfect is a great example where everything’s there, and you can collect all the information, and then I’ll ask them, okay, so how are you communicating with your donors? What data do you collect? And they’re really saying, Well, you know, I think someone has the information. They know what, what we’ve been doing. They know if they contacted them. And it’s like, is there a centralized system for this, and they’re like No. Other times, we find that people are just not using all the features that they have, and how they can use the, you know, Constant Contact to, you know, communicate with donors. So this is a really important part, because if we have all of the data, then we’re able to really create, so we’re going to talk about those higher level goals. And we’re able to really make a strong strategic plan if we know where you’ve been. So here we are, we’re in talking about those high level goals. You know, we like to recommend that plans are generally three years we prefer, but we generally say three years, which some stretch goals up to five years. And here, what we do is we’ve had these interactive workshops, we’ve gathered a lot of information there. And then what we do is we draft those high level goals so that we give you a starting point. And once we draft those high level goals, we have these work groups that are small groups that we put together to work on looking at those goals and saying, Are these goals realistic? Is this really what we want to do, and then we finalize them, and once we finalize them, because we’re going to get them ready for the Board to approve. But when we finalize that between with the strategic planning committee, we start working with the staff to create the action plans and the metrics to measure what we’re doing. Here’s just a sheet to show you how we use our action plan. So we have the high level goal, and then we year we do a yearly explanation of where we’re going to get to so each year has specifics. And with those specifics, I really, really, really strive to get exact numbers. So if you want to raise fundraising goals, okay, what were your goals, you know, In this year, where are you going next year? What’s it going to look like? What’s, how many by what percent is realistic? Well, if you’ve had three years of data, you can kind of predict in for where you’re going to go. And that’s a really good way to sort of look at how we’re going to build those goals. And lead really spent a lot of time here really making sure we have some really great, great, measurable data to look at, for success. So what do you get? We like to look at these documents, the strategic planning documents as living and breathing, they’re really important because, you know, you may need to make some changes, but we give you an external plan, which will be the one that will go to the board, it’s a shorter plan for their approval, it will have all the high level goals. And if you’ve done mission vision values in and unique value proposition, we’ll put that in there, we’ll put in all the all the goals, and then it’ll be ready for their approval. Some of our clients use the use these plans to put on their website, maybe share with donors. And it’s a really great way to let people know, you know where you’re going, because we go back to really knowing your you having your roadmap. And then the internal plan is really specific, it has all the action plans, it’s longer, it’s very detailed, it’s really for the staff to really know where they are. And one of the things I do with the internal plan is, once it’s all said and done, I say, Okay, now you’ve got to look at these different sections. And I, you know, give it to whoever specifically is responsible for that section. And I say, tell me what the issues are with this plan. Because I want to address as many issues as I can. Now, before we start looking at other pieces of doing the implementation, and then finding out we have issues, I want to address them in advance, I also want to know that this plan is funded, I want to make sure that your CFO is looking at it, and knows that this plan can be carried through financially.
So one of the things too, that I always emphasize is that once we have this plan, we really need to work on implementation. Implementation is where it’s a really, really important part. I look at this piece right here. And this is the system that was created its Gantt chart that one of our clients created in their system, because I don’t want to add additional pieces to what you’re already doing. I want to fit in your system into your systems, and they had something already they were paying for ready. So there was an additional costs. And they really never used the feature. But when I said okay, really a Gantt chart would be a great way to monitor what you’re doing. They sort of said, Okay, well, let’s look at this. And they, they have really enjoyed the process, because this is so specific. This has, who’s doing it, when they’re starting it when it needs to be completed, they can track progress on here. And they have every single action item so that they know what the item is. And I say a lot of times to my clients that without strategy, execution is aimless without execution strategy is useless. And it’s so important that you really do execute a really strong plan. Because, again, I’m not going to say it again, because so many people take their plans, and they just let them sit on the shelf. And nothing happens with the plan. So I want to make sure that your plan is, is implemented. And that’s one of the things that we do too, is we do a lot of check ins. So once we’ve completed the plan, you start your plan, and then we do check ins, we have a schedule of check ins to see where you are. I have a really funny story about one of my clients. She you know, we’re doing our check in and she says, I’m really I’m so stressed about the strategic plan that we you know, I think we’re not we’re not doing everything. It’s not going well. Of course I’m like, Oh no. I’m so worried because she’s feeling so stressed. So tell me more. Tell me more about what you’re doing. So she starts to tell me, and she says, Well, you know, it’s this is our goal, right? We have this goal, and we’ve reached this goal. But I didn’t, I haven’t done every step under that goal. And I said, Wait, but you reached your goal. She said, Yes. And I said, Well, you don’t need to reach do, you don’t need to do every step if you reach the goal, because remember, and I’m just gonna bring that back, it’s a living, breathing document, you are not handcuffed to this document, she felt incredible sense of relief, and, you know, accomplishment, because she was accomplishing her plan. So it was really exciting to see her, you know, really figure how things are, and figure out that she was and was succeeding in her plan. So just to reiterate, you know, we look at what are the systems that you have in place? You know, what do you where do you where can we fit into this implementation process? You know, what, where do you? Where do you want to do the additional things? Like, what are some of the things that you want to work on? In your system? You know, where can you incorporate opportunities for new for new pieces of information to your existing work? You know, we do a lot of reviewing to and adjusting, adjusting goals. Some of you know, our clients will say, Okay, well, you know, we set this fundraising goal, and, you know, we’re sharing the dashboard with our board. And they’re a little disappointed, because we didn’t, we didn’t achieve the goal that we set out, we thought it was too ambitious. And we haven’t been able to, you know, reach that goal. So we say, okay, will tell us a little more about what’s happening. So when they talk to us a little bit more about what’s happening, they tell us, okay, you know, we we’ve had, you know, we’ve lost some staff, or, you know, we did, we had a big donor that we were really working with, and we really thought we’re going to be able to, you know, receive a gift. So, without getting that gift, we weren’t able to accomplish our goal. So those things happen, things occur. And you have to review and you have to readjust those goals. So maybe we have to go back and say, Okay, it’s not, you know, that 20% growth that you wanted, you know, maybe it’s a 10% growth this year, and in you have to talk to your board. And that’s why it’s really important when you have this board liaison, and you have a communication with your board and a check in because then they’re really understanding how you’re progressing. And they really have a good, good understanding of how things are going to go, and how, you know, things, why things didn’t go the right way, you know, and also sometimes go the other way, where you set a goal of, you know, 20%, and you had incredible donations, so you achieved an even higher level. So maybe the goal wasn’t ambitious enough. So we go back and we say, okay, let’s, let’s re think that and we push each year, to be at a different level, so that we’re really accomplishing that goal in a successful way. So one of the things I like to say is trying to do it all and expecting it can be done exactly right, is a recipe for disappointment. Perfection is the enemy. You know, Cheryl said it. Well, it’s it’s true. We don’t want perfection, right? We really want you to work with this document. And I can’t reiterate enough how I tell staff, you know, what, you know, when I come in, and I’m sitting there and starting to talk about all the work that we’re doing, and I have all these conversations with staff members, sometimes they’re terrified. They’re like, I’m already as we know, in the nonprofit sector, everybody’s already super stretched, working really hard. And, you know, the idea that this process is going to come in and create more work. And, you know, they’re just like, overwhelmed by it. And I tried to explain, we don’t want to overwhelm you. This is really here for you to make your life much easier to kind of have a really good roadmap along the way and also it like I say, This is your opportunity to pull in and give your, your feedback give your mark on, for example, your vision, vision and values. You know, we just finished doing some values with an organization. And you know, they really had no idea what to do with the value. So they were struggling. So when we were educating them on that piece, they were like, really, really struggling. And we had to really step back and explain to them how this is for them. Because we said, you know, if you get these values, right, this is really going to help your decision making, it’s going to be a help with recruiting, it’s going to help you understand who you are as an organization. So once they’ve got that we really, and it took us a while to get them there. They had a lot of fun. And in the end, they were so proud of being able to create these wonderful values that they had developed. But I think throughout the process, there was that piece of, you know, why are we doing this? What does this all mean? So I think that, you know, going back to that part of like communication is key. So love to see if there’s any questions. And really, you know, one is just say the best way to predict the future is to create it.
That’s my cue for Question time. Can you hear me all right? Let’s see. All right. Can you hear me, Sandra? Yeah, perfect. Excellent. So I’m going to start off with some of these questions. Everybody, I’m going to I’m just going to be going down in order here. First come first serve from Robin, if the rules of board members are not understood, is that something that should be addressed before kicking off the strategic planning process?
Absolutely, I think that what you need to do is right off the bat, when you’re doing that relationship piece. That’s where you really want to talk about what’s your role? So right, you know, what’s your role? What is your role as a staff member? What is your role as a board member? So many times board members want to be in the weeds, and they don’t understand that their their level is their role is strategic. So I think it’s really important to have that conversation. And you have an honest conversation and sometimes use us we’re usually like the bad guys that are there to tell people what their role is when they don’t, you know, they don’t want to hear it. You know, the executive director has a hard time telling them
somebody has to it’s really fun when you’re given the autonomy to kind of define your own role. But is that what’s best for everybody? Excellently Joelle is asking with now being a virtual and in person world, how do we help the stakeholders involved not achieve burnout with this dual meeting process?
So we, we really think that the I’m sorry, I need I don’t really think I’m that clear. Can you repeat the question?
Sure, was now being with all of us being in a virtual and in person role, world where we’re doing, you know, half things online and half in person? How can we help these stakeholders involved, not get burnout not get stressed out? When we have multiple meetings that are in person and online at once if we’re really utilizing multiple communication channels?
Okay, thanks for clarifying. So, what I like to do is really sort of decide what is what is a stakeholder willing to do. And that’s where we sort of lay out that at the beginning to incorporate as little of their time as possible. One of the things I like to do when I do strategic planning is not drag it off out too long. And, you know, if a stakeholder wants to provide their feedback to some survey, then they’re not necessarily needing to be part of the meetings. I like to make less number of people involved in lots of meetings and, you know, have only a few a big group for the last, you know, few meetings and trying to be considerate. Having honest communication is the best way to sort of get that and thinking about to like, thanking people we try to do something to you know, say thank you for participating and it’s a toe can have something to appreciate their time. But it is an issue. I know that you were all zoomed out.
Yeah, definitely. And I think even the the stress that some people feel just communicating on a, on a day to day basis, they can kind of feel stressed out. And just because you’re doing it on a computer doesn’t mean that you don’t have that same mental drain. Just because we’re looking at each other through through a screen. There’s a lot of mental effort that’s going on, especially when we have an entire nonprofit community that we’re working on building and keeping, keeping together. Speaking of keeping people together, and maybe having some hard conversations with people, and I, like we said about, you know, we do have to have these hard conversations, how would you address a member who committed to being a part of the team, but when you set up important meetings, they’re always absent or do not respond, not engaging, they’re in the beginning and make that commitment, but then they kind of step away. And when it’s time to actually put the work in.
I’ve had to have those hard conversations. And it’s really frustrating. Because this process only works as I said, in the beginning is you have to establish the working relationship, you have to establish the commitment. And one of the things someone has said, you’ll see it’s like time, we need to make sure you have the time for it. So when you’re not meeting those pieces, you’re not meeting your expectations. It’s really hard for those that are so a lot of times and actually had a situation where it was the Board Liaison, unfortunately. So it was really the person who was really the key person who had said they completely commit to it. So we had to have that hard conversation of saying, you know, we understand maybe you have too much is there what’s going on, in you know, fortunately, we were lucky that they said I’ve had a lot of work issues, but I’m now able to commit. So we had someone step in while he was finishing his work commitments, and then he jumped back in when he completed his work commitments. But clearly, if someone is not participating, I think you need to have the conversation sooner than later. Because it’s so unfair to those that are making this a priority. And, you know, I see too many times where, you know, a lot of people say, yeah, really excited, especially, it seems to be the board. Really excited about this process. Can Wait so excited. And then you give them a whole list of dates. And yeah, sorry, none of those work. So have the hard conversations. And if it’s a staff member, you know, ask questions like say, what’s happening? Can we do something? And you know, sometimes you just have to counsel them out, because it’s not a good fit.
I really liked that approach, not, hey, you’re doing something wrong, here’s what needs to change. You know, here’s the problem, what can all of us change to work better as a unit, and not really targeting this person and making them feel uncomfortable in some way, just kind of gently reminding them that this still is a group effort that’s going on here. On that note, let’s say that you had some staff members that weren’t included in the strategic planning process. What do you think is the best way to disseminate that information? For the folks who weren’t there? Initially? Bullet points, slide graphs visuals, how would you best relay that info?
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s, it’s, I think it’s good to share the presentations, we try to share what we have, we share materials, we share education pieces, we, you know, we sort of do nice, like documents where people can interact with us too. So I think that’s another piece where you, you can provide feedback. And I think it’s really important that you share as much information as you can and let people know about the process. And then they can ask questions, and we always provide our email. We say anything you need any questions you have reach out to us directly, we’ll explain anything that’s in any of the documents that we’re presenting to you.
Excellent, I’m speaking on hard conversations. A lot of the questions that are coming in are talking about or asking about the best way to approach some of these hard conversation. Here’s one from Hannah D. How would you go about starting this process? If you were strategic plan is over 10 years old, and the board doesn’t see a point in updating it. A lot has happened, even just over these past few years, let alone the last decade what was working back in 2013 isn’t necessarily good. wouldn’t be working today.
Absolutely important to not, you know, to do a plan, if it’s that you haven’t done one for 10 years, as I was saying, I like three to five year plans. So the way I would start the conversation would be with the board chair, I would go to the board chair, I would talk about, you know, why it’s so important why you need this plan. And I think if you don’t have any traction there, I think that maybe you just really think you have to be able to try to convince that board chair, it’s really hard if you get a board chair, who is saying, we’re not going to do it. Maybe some some other board members where you have a relationship, you can talk to them, but you don’t want to, you don’t want to like circumvent anyone, but just talking about the importance of it may be talking in a board meeting, presenting some of the needs some of the research, bringing outside people to talk about it is always a good way because I think boards really react well to someone who has an expertise and is doing this work. So consider that if you haven’t been able to get any traction,
perhaps a Sandra Allen can step in and lend that unbiased expertise from a third party outside perspective.
Yeah, we do a lot of that. And we do a lot of convincing and educating.
Love it as a reminder for everybody, because in the chat, which I knew you couldn’t see, a lot of people were asking how they can find out more information about this presentation, and everything that you have to offer. If you go next to live chat, there’s going to be a detailed section. And then from there, it’s in the files and documents, you’ll be able to get the slide and the resources that Sandra has provided for us today. I’m going to give us one more question before I go back to the polls, which we had a lot of activity on, a lot of people feel very strongly about this subject. Here’s, here’s a question from Jim cipher. AI is on the horizon for helping forum strategic plans, after it absorbs the organization’s network drive of documents. Any thoughts on letting that AI shape those strategic plans moving forward?
I mean, I think we’re going to have to move with the times it’s coming. And you know, really anything, you know, I talked a lot with a lot of different organizations and AI can simplify a lot of the work that that is happening. So I think we have to find the right fit for it and decide where it can help the organization and how they feel comfortable with it. Because I do find a lot of organizations like I was talking about, they don’t even have a donor management system. So it’s just really kind of how could they
join your best everybody’s doing your best if you if you don’t have one pencil and paper, you got to do what you got to do to raise money for the animal shelter or the food bank, you know?
Exactly, exactly. Exactly. And it doesn’t, you know, and it’s it’s been done that way for a lot. And you know, that successful too. So it’s just really, but I definitely think AI is something that we’re all going to be we all have to incorporate and I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t shy away from it.
Right? It has to be a similar paradigm shift to the way that the internet changed all industries when it was introduced. And, you know, maybe you would think, Oh, well, we’re gonna do email. Now physical letters are out. But now you know, something’s changed. Some things stay the same. It’s important to roll with the punches, like you said, roll with the waves as they’re coming along, because change is inevitable. So parting thoughts here? Here’s here’s the results from the polls, a lot of people giving us feedback here does for the one question, does your strategic plan, have complete buy in from all of your stakeholders? This is a great question. Only 32.9% said, Yes. Everybody else said no. And I think a lot of this can be answered by having some of those hard questions. And I really love all of the points that you’re making here. When having these hard conversations. In a previous role in management, I was told that it’s important to be honest, but you don’t have to be mean, when you’re telling the truth. And I think that’s a little bit of the theme of what I’m what I’m hearing here. Some people are better at it than others certainly, like most things, it’s a skill.
Exactly. I do that a lot. I do. Everybody says I deliver really bad news, you know, in a nice swag. So, you know, I think it’s a good way to do it. I think it’s, you know, it’s really important to get that buy in. So if you, you know, you really have to work to get that so I would just Sales, communicate, you know, communicate, tell people why it’s important to educate, use, like research and literature, there’s a lot of great research out there, that to incorporate to explain that others are saying this, you know, use outside consultants, I think they help a lot to give validity to what you already know needs to happen. And that key component of having the buy in is going to make a successful plan. It really is.
Strongly Agree. And speaking of getting outside resources, your other question, people were a little bit more divided over? Not exactly a 5050 split. But do you have a strategic plan that you are actively using? Yes. 51.2%, responded, No 48.8%. So a little bit of division there. But certainly, you’ve given everybody lots of guidance for the day, any parting thoughts before I close the stream up?
Sure, I would just say to those that are, you know, that have that strategic plan that maybe isn’t getting, you know, getting used, you know, leave a look at it, you know, tweak it with a little bit of what we talked about today, you know, refresh it. And for those that haven’t done one, I highly recommend that you start you know, a plan and get, you know, get a, you know, a really good framework to help you to guide the mission, the great work you’re all doing, I think the strategic plan would just make you just be able to do more work, get to more, serve more people or serve more, whoever you’re serving, you know, provide more services, to really do a great job, what we want to do, which is make a better world. And I thank you all like for the work you do. I’m always inspired by my clients, because I’m learning so much about the different things they do. And there’s so much good work being done. So thank you for all the work that you do.
Sandra, this has been great. It’s been formative. And I feel empowered to put everything that you said into action here. But thank you for being with us today. Thank you for this amazing presentation. And thank you for all the great questions and all the feedback everybody’s putting into the chat and the q&a. Take care, everybody and thank you, Sandra. Enjoy the rest of your day and everybody else. Enjoy the rest of our conference. Take care.
Welcome. Bye now.
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