Case Studies

Helping Leaders Make Strategic Progress And Implement Change – Facilitating a strategic planning session for a non-profit Board

What was needed …

The board of a non-profit quasi-government organization wanted to hold a strategic planning session to navigate their organization’s future.  They hoped to establish a framework within which their organization’s systems would be optimized and management could be guided in day-to-day decisions.  They also wanted to provide staff with a clear focus for ongoing improvement efforts.  They asked Merge to prepare for, facilitate and summarize a two-day strategic planning session with the entire Board and several senior staff members.

What Merge did …

Merge’s objective was simple: it was to first understand what the Board wished to accomplish as an organization, and then to help them move forward in order to achieve their goals.

She first held an initial telephone meeting with the organization’s CEO and two senior Board members in order to obtain a greater breadth and depth of current issues, organizational culture, and the desired outcomes for this two-day retreat.  As a result, she was able to define where the organization presently was on the strategic planning continuum, the goals of the session itself, who the planning team members were, what the agenda needed to include, and what pre-work needed to be done.  She also conducted short telephone interviews with several other planning team members to get a greater latitude of perspectives.

She then facilitated the two-day strategic planning session, adjusting her approach as needed in order to move participants towards their identified goals.  To do this, Merge used both large and small group open-ended conversations, as well as a variety of process tools such as brainstorming, visioning, gap analysis, force-field analysis, multi-voting, root-cause analysis, priority setting, troubleshooting, decision gridding, SWOT analysis, and survey feedback.  The actual tools that were used varied as the session progressed, based upon issues that arose during the session itself.  At the end of the two days, Board members and staff established “next steps” and created action plans with measurable milestones and target deadlines.

After the planning retreat, Merge summarized the process and outcomes of the strategic planning session in a short two-page report, and gave the leadership team a means to assess strategic progress over time.

What were the results …

At the end of the two days, the Board and management of this organization had numerous tangible outcomes consisting of goals, strategies, objectives and concrete action plans that tied into their vision, mission and guiding principles.  In addition, they also realized several other intangible outcomes including team-building among their top leaders, organizational alignment, consensus of their leadership, and a focus for the future.