The secret to a successful strategy is not in the plan but in the planning process. Let us guide you through a step-by-step journey to create a compelling vision of your future and a path to achieving it. We will work first with your leadership team and then involve your whole organization in the process. We will design and facilitate a series of meetings to get everyone’s input and prepare them for the changes ahead. The goal is to have the people of your organization “own” the plan and be ready to roll up their sleeves to take action. The process is designed to engage all voices in creating a plan that answers five basic questions.

Here’s the Model We Use

These Are the Five Key Questions That Guide Strategy Development

  1. Where are We? Understanding Stakeholders and Environment is the foundation for strategic thinking. You need to know your internal and external stakeholders, their needs and wants. You also need to be aware of the forces, trends, and developments in the world that impact your planning. We will show you how to gather that data and help you to analyze and make sense of it.
  2. Who are We? Mission and Values define the identity of your organization. The mission statement is the cornerstone of strategy. It defines the business you are in and how you will create value for your stakeholders. Values tell what behaviors are non-negotiable in your culture. Values describe what individuals expect from each other. We facilitate the honest conversations needed to get clarity.
  3. Where Do We Want to Be? Vision and Strategic Goals set organizational direction. Vision statements are not a slogan; but a vivid image of exactly what the future state will be. Strategic goals tell where to focus energy to help make the vision a reality. We help leaders and the people of organizations align to create their own inspiring, energizing “preferred future.”
  4. How Will We Get There? Creating Strategic Objectives and Action Plans begins strategy implementation. Objectives define the outcomes to be achieved over the next year or so. These are specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic outcomes that set milestones for measuring progress. Action Plans are used to achieve those objectives with appropriate timelines, resources, metrics, roles and responsibilities.
  5. How Will We Know? It is essential to Evaluate and Adjust during the implementation of the plan. Even with the best preparation, things may not go as planned. So it will be important to have check points along the way to ask “Did we do what we said we would do?”, “Did we get the results we expected?”, “What have we learned?” and “What do we want to do differently?” We will train you and your team in keeping things on track.

One Client’s Strategic Planning Story

The Client: A large community foundation in a midwestern state providing services to a large number of donor-advised funds with a purpose to help fund socially relevant nonprofit organizations.

The Challenge: The Foundation was operating at a deficit and a new CEO was determined to change the situation with a belief that a new focus was needed for the organization to survive and grow.

The Process: Two DTA consultants worked over a period of several months with a small strategic planning committee and then facilitated a series of “mini-retreats” with the leadership, board and senior staff.

Six Month Results

  • A shift from being primarily donor-driven to primarily community-impact driven.
  • A new four-pillar strategic goal framework (Be Bold, Be Big, Be Strong, Be Known) deeply embedded into operations, including serving as the basis for:
    • staff goal-setting and evaluation
    • staff time-management to ensure focus on goals
    • all decisions on how, when, and where to spend funds
  • Ongoing Board education, engagement, and support of the four pillars through dashboard reports, active updating by all staff of their relevant pieces, and continual reiteration of focus by the CEO

Longer Term Results

  • 89% more assets under management and a 51% increase in the operating budget
  • Significantly more flexible capital thanks to new assets with fewer constraints
  • Vastly expanded partnerships and sophistication of grant-making
  • Financially independent (fully fund core budget through internal revenues first time in history)
  • Recognized as one of the 20 fastest growing community foundations in the country

To learn more about our approach to change, see these related topics: