Those of you familiar with the good ole Midwest Academy Chart have probably seen the power of its strategic planning clarity in action. In reflecting on the good, the bad, and the ugly of implementation of the Midwest Academy Chart, I came upon a trend in challenges that keep organizations and coalitions from implementing their new strategies: in naming big new goals and tactics, they miss the step of investing in changing how they do their work in order to match their day-to-day operations to BOTH the technical and adaptive demands of the new tasks at hand.
Often groups take the time and energy to fill out the chart and come up with a great set of tactics to help achieve a short or medium term goal. These tactics are usually a new stretch opportunity, new mode of working, or expansion of the organization or coalition’s goal. Unfortunately, they often go about achieving these tactics without fully exploring what changes need to be made to how they do their work day-to-day in order to be successful in these new tactics. For example –
- In setting an expanded fundraising goal for a new campaign, coalitions miss the opportunity to both change how they technically raise money (increase donor lists, create new fundraising materials) AND improve their adaptive skills (address fear of fundraising in the board or other staff, assess past fundraising efforts and what pitfalls we’ve met in day-to-day operations)
- In setting a goal of mobilizing a new or larger set of constituents to action, organizations miss the taking the time to explore how they technically reach out to people better (do we have enough staff to manage the relationships we need to the depth that we need them) AND improve adaptive issues (would allowing new participants to engage in a more democratic decision-making process increase their commitment and ownership of the action and how might we go about making that a reality?)
In short- we move straight into asking “how do we technically achieve our tactics?” without asking what do our values/vision and other sources of adaptive learning call us to do differently in our day-to-day work to help us achieve our bigger goals together.
I suggest we add a sixth column to the chart (or maybe a row underneath) answering the following questions:
- What are our core values for this project?
- What types of actions do our values call us to take in achieving our tactics?
- examples: democratic decision-making, authentic conversations, confronting fear or limiting mindsets, being more inclusive of others, asking before attacking, etc.
- What ways of operating in our day-to-day work in the past have held us back from achieving success and which should we shift NOW before getting further into our strategies?
- What other questions would YOU add to this list?