I have been using the same strategic planning process for organizations for the past 15 years. You would think that I would get creative. Well yesterday I got wild and crazy and changed my process. I added a cafe. And it was a very small non-profit, only 9 people but the cafe was wonderful and powerful Here is what I used to do and what I did yesterday. The results were fantastic.
Old process over about 6 hours:
1) Affinity process to capture everyone's thoughts about what needed to be focused on
2) Group process to flush out any other ideas or suggestions that may have been missed in the affinity process
3) Group process for prioritization and assessing performance on each focus
4) Opportunity map outcomes
5) Group process to explore opportunities to work on and time frames
6) Assign teams to develop tactical plans to address opportunities
7) Tactical team develop action plans and set time lines
8) Group reflection process and adjourn.
So here is how I changed the process and I loved it. First I asked that the whole system be in the retreat. We had board members, a customer, grant writer, community member, and contractors.
1) Introduction in group setting
2) Introduce the process
3) Pose the question
4) Three cafe tables with three people each, start the cafe
5) Three rounds of conversation each 20 minutes
6) Returned people to original table and asked them to capture the main themes at each table. 20 minutes
7) Harvested main themes in group
8) Group process for prioritization and assessing performance on each focus
9) Opportunity map outcomes
10) Group process to explore opportunities to work on and time frames
11) Assign teams to develop tactical plans to address opportunities
12) Used affinity process to capture everyone’s values, and group into value titles
13) Developed the values for the non-profit from this harvest
14) From conversation developed mission for the non-profit
15) Created list of what the non-profit is and is not for them to develop a story about their organization and it role in the community
16) Provided a foundation for a vision statement to be drafted.
17) Reflection session and adjourn
And all of this in 5 hours. It was the most productive planning session I have ever had and I believe that is in no small part due to driving them into conversation early and the power of conversation transformed the session.