UPCOMING: Co-Creation 101  | March 12th, 2024 11:00am - 12:00pm MDT

Operationalizing Your Goals: Connecting Strategy and Activity

September 21, 2023

Show Notes

Ever wondered how to transform grand strategic visions into concrete tasks for your team? Or how a strategic plan should play a part in the day-to-day?

The hard part isn’t setting these objectives (okay, maybe a little). It’s in the journey from idea to implementation and not getting lost along the way.

In this episode of THRIVERS, Tucker and Sarah get into the details of a workshop sequence designed to bridge the gap between strategy and action. This workshop ensures lofty goals don’t remain just on paper. It promotes co-creation, ensures team collaboration, and most importantly, translates visions into actionable tasks.

It isn’t just about tasks and tactics, though. Sarah and Tucker take a holistic approach, emphasizing:

  • The interconnected nature of goals and the need for frequent communication, ensuring clarity and minimizing redundancy.
  • Overcoming the human tendency to silo tasks and the importance of collective reflection.
  • The thrill of discovering untapped energy sources within the team that can foster excitement and motivation for everyone.

With the combination of special resources and templates and the focus on transparency, inclusivity, and breaking down silos, this workshop is a game-changer for teams looking to breathe life into their strategies.

Join Sarah and Tucker on this episode of THRIVERS to gain insight into how strategy can be seamlessly woven into the fabric of daily tasks, with every team member feeling valued, involved, and clear about their role.

Listener Links/Resources:

Visitor link to our detailed agenda – https://app.sessionlab.com/sessions/KoMv5r/?t=NKtjAl1GW_jY_Sce-h4EGA

Easy Retro Board template – https://easyretro.io/publicboard/bN5nMqb1ZuORY1YvkPOcC7ScC6L2/85690111-e81e-4a20-8e72-926ce3898b9d

Need to create a strategic plan (or breathe life into your existing one)? Schedule a free Design Session and we’ll explore the areas of opportunity and co-create a plan that fits your organization’s needs and budget.

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Transcript

Tucker: Welcome to THRIVERS: Nonprofit Leadership for the Next Normal. I’m your host, Tucker Wanamaker, the CEO of THRIVE IMPACT, and our mission is to solve nonprofit leader burnout and right some of the injustices happening against nonprofit leaders. Burnout is the enemy of creating positive change, and we believe it’s important to connect with great ideas and great leaders that are out there.
So that you can learn to thrive in today’s nonprofit landscape. So today I’m joined by, as usual actually, by Sarah Fanslau our Chief of Impact. Sarah, good to be here with you. And today we want to go. We’re building a series of different sequence of experiences that we’ve been doing. We did one on a board the other day where it was helping… The board really wanted to or, I would say, the ED really wanted to connect the board with understanding what’s really going on from a financial and an impact perspective and to really start to galvanize them and energize them.
And so if you haven’t listened to that podcast, we went really step by step through that whole sequence that generated some really powerful outcomes for that nonprofit.
It was, I think an hour and a half long experience, and so definitely one to go listen to. If you’re trying to be a better facilitator of people, and I’m guessing since all of you out there, I’m guessing… I don’t know if all of you, but I’m guessing most of you, if you are somebody who’s bringing people together like a board, for example, or a team, these are the types of podcasts that we want to put together specifically to help you.
Figure out what are the sequence of types of questions that you can engage those people in so that way you can unearth the collective wisdom of your board or your team so that you can galvanize and energize them in the direction that you want to go so that you can build some connectivity and some relational capital, if you will.
This works. These types of things work really well for both organizations who are going in a good direction and some who were actually really toxic. We’ve had some really toxic cultures that we’ve needed to work through and work with, and we took them through a similar sequence of types of questions.
And so today we wanted to go through one. Actually, Sarah, I wanted you to introduce this one because frankly, this was your brainchild and I appreciated it so much. I think I was probably like, I don’t know if this is gonna work, frankly. I was like if I remember going back to it, thinking like, yeah, that’s just, it’s too granular, it’s too specific and you’re like, “No it’s safe to try, isn’t it Tucker?”
Safe to try. And it was actually quite wonderful. So Sarah, introduce what we’re gonna be talking about today. What was the situation? What was the organization, or not the specific organization, but what was the situation the organization was in, and then what did we end up doing because of that?
Sarah: Yeah, so this was a really interesting one. It was a three-hour workshop and we called it a re-energizing, a strategic plan workshop. And the goal, Was really to help this organization bring their strategic plan down an altitude. It was a plan without really any measurable targets. And to align the work of the organization with the plan.
And of course, along the way get buy-in from the folks in the organization to both the plan and then the annual goals. So that’s really what we were doing. And you’re right, it was very specific and tactical and it was a lot of work that went in advance to get the information we needed to help align folks on where we were going.
Tucker: And tell them a little bit about the state of the strategic plan. They had them itself. Because this was one of those, the old cliche, this is basically a strategic plan sitting on the shelf, gathering dust for them.
Sarah: Yeah, it was a strategic plan that they were really proud of, actually, that the executive director really loved, and I think it had… Because it really spoke to a lot of the things that they wanted to do. So in some ways, at a higher altitude, it felt really aligned with where they wanted to go. I think the challenge of the plan was that, It wasn’t very specific and there were a lot of platitudes in there about things that sounded nice, but that when you came to ask where are you on this?
It was really hard to answer because there was no target, right? I could say to Tucker, I want to increase the number of people we’re serving in our program, and if I don’t say by how many or how much, or what kind of people. We’re not gonna know if we have met the target because there wasn’t one.
Tucker: And so because of that it’s really interesting that you’re saying that they, especially the CEO, really loved the strategic plan. And that they have five strategic priorities, and yet it still sat on the shelf gathering dust. How interesting was that? And it sounds like the case was, it’s important to go high altitude and get a sense of what might we do?
What do we really do, what are our key priorities? But they didn’t ultimately, or maybe the organization that helped them on this one, just didn’t bring it down to the level of granularity of, to your point of targets of action plans. Of rhythms of all kinds of different things, and so it just stayed in this lofty space.
But then, they created goals for 2023 that were not really directly attributed to the priorities.
Sarah: They could be mapped there without too much hard work, but I don’t think that they were necessarily intentionally created based on the strategic priorities. The reality of the strategic priorities is that they encompassed everything the organization did.
And so it wasn’t hard to be like, let’s draw a line from one thing to the other. Because the strategic plan was basically the whole show. So yeah ultimately, again, I think from an intention perspective, it helped the organization see at a high altitude where it wanted to go. But what it didn’t help it do was figure out how to get there.
And so our work in this workshop was really to say, “Okay, let’s take it down from where it was to a level where everyone’s bought in, around what it means to achieve success.” And that’s what we did.
Tucker: And the thing I think that we’ve consistently been learning and this came out from One of our first podcasts with Dr. Cynthia Whittaker about the strategic planning process that we did with her which was, she said something of what made the process so helpful, which was that the voices could hear the voices. The voices could hear the voices. Meaning, in this particular case, this is a small community-based nonprofit.
They’re roughly a million dollars in revenue and even though I think they had probably about a staff of 12 or so, maybe a little bit more and they’d never really come together around the operationalizing of this and being in the same space altogether.
For them to not hear, priorities through the lens of a consultant or anything like that, they were co-creating right there in the room from people from different parts of the organization. Fundraising, program, impact, that voices hearing the voices piece here was really important too.
Let all the voices come in and for all the voices to hear each other’s voices and hear, sometimes that was verbal voices and sometimes, in fact, many times, those were written voices that help people to see the context of where people were. Either way, it was the voices still coming in.
Awesome. Let’s take them through the sequence. Because the point for this is for all of you who are listening again, we believe that part of impact-driven leadership for the next normal is being a facilitator because you’re already bringing people together. And you don’t have to be at the level that we are.
And we are professional facilitators, literally is what we do on an ongoing basis. We facilitate transformative, experiential type of workshops. And at the same time, the sequence of the types of things that we are doing are things that you can practice and try and run with. That I think would be really helpful because if you’re bringing people together and you’re wanting to create a space of where all voices are apart and included and co-creating. Which actually leads to better strategy, leads to better buy-in leads to the things that you probably want, then this is a sequence that you might think about to be able to take some lofty high-level goals that sound nice, but not quite sure what they mean. Down into the more granular details of, literally, 30, 60, 90-day goals, which is what we had them do through this journey.
So the first thing we did was at the very top and this is purposeful to get them grounded in the room, and we almost always do this is we asked a question around in this particular case was around getting them grounded in their own desire for impact.
The question was literally, what do you want to make possible in your community through your work with your organization, and why? What do you want to make possible in your community through your work with organization, and why? Gave them space to reflect on that question, and invited them into groups of two or three to share with one another of just what was emerging for them.
And then come back out into the main room. This is all on Zoom by the way, but you can of course do this in person come back out into the main room, and share out just some of the different approaches that everybody was taking when it came to what type of impact they were hoping to have.
And what I noticed about that is it helped people in a subtle way, re-opt in into why it is that it even matters that I’m here. It was a little bit of a purpose question. Of why is it important that I’m even here? Meets with what do I even want to achieve in terms of impact.
And I found it, it like opted people in a connective way to grounding in why we’re here in the first place.
Sarah: Yeah. I think it also, one of the shares that came out was also the approach. This organization took to the work was about being humble and open and I think it was both the, who we work with and how we work with folks.
That came out as a response to this question, which to your point, Tucker, I remember the CEO, like a junior-level employee saying that piece around. How we show up to the work and it really resonating with folks. And to your point, bringing them together and setting the stage for the rest of the workshop.
Tucker: And one thing I wanted to notice here is the importance of bringing voices in off the bat. If you’re facilitating any meeting, the faster you can get to get other people to share with one another, even if it’s a board meeting, even if it’s a really tactical meeting. Some form of it sets a symbolic stage, if you will, that my voice isn’t the most primary and important.
All of our voices are the most primary and important, so I just want to speak to that. And that’s one of the reasons why we do a connection activity at the beginning of most meetings and experiences, is because we’re trying to collectively set a stage that says, I am not here to bring answers. I’m here to co-create our future.
If I’m a CEO or if I’m an ED, or if I’m the head of a team, that’s a really important symbolic gesture of saying what is the most important question we want to be asking ourselves right now as we get into this space. Sarah, take us in into the next part. I know we, we got into skateboard and orienting.
Tell us a little bit about that part.
Sarah: Yep. And I do just want to say, the question Tucker, you just shared, we had people go into breakouts, and share in pairs and then come back into the main room to share, as you just described, in the full group. And to your point, I think both of those choreographies help create psychological safety, right?
Especially at the start when we send people into a breakout room, even if it’s a Zoom room, it means you don’t have to share with everyone. Because maybe you’re nervous and shy but maybe you feel okay sharing with one person. And then when we come back to the room, we usually invite, to your point, both voice and chat so that depending on how folks are feeling, they’re able to engage.
Tucker: That’s a really great point.
Sarah: And then, yeah, to your point, we went into kind of our process and methodology and we went over the skateboard, which we’ve talked about a lot on this podcast. We’ll link it again in the show notes, but the whole point is that. We’re not here to make something perfect.
But rather we want to build the least viable transportation vehicle, which is the skateboard. And we want to upgrade it through learning over time. And that’s the agile methodology. Instead of building a big, beautiful car with all the wheels and the doors and everything we want to start with what we can use and we want to upgrade as we learn.
And so we use that frame because. Strategic plans sometimes have this aura around them, like they’re perfect. They can’t be touched or changed. This is written in stone. And we needed to take that off so that people could engage with what was there and update it and upgrade it. And then from there we really went into, okay, so let’s get down to business.
And we shared with folks this idea that there were two sets of goals we wanted to help them engage with. One was the priorities for 2023. And just to set some context here, we had done a bunch of work with the organization before the workshop to really prepare. So we. Usually, do at least two design sessions to co-create with an organization what’s gonna happen in the workshop.
And that was true of this as well. And part of what we did during those meeting times ahead of the workshop was say, where are you on your strategic goals? And through those conversations, we learned that because the strategic plan was higher level and not very operationalized, they didn’t really know where they were because there weren’t measurable targets.
I can’t tell you how many kids I’ve served if I haven’t set a goal for how many I want to serve in essence. And we realized through those conversations, okay because there’s no really hard and fast goals, what do we want to do? What do we want to work to operationalize? And the organization chose to operationalize the priorities for 2023.
Really rather than the strategic priorities. However, we didn’t want to let the strategic priorities go. And so what we did was an exercise where we had folks map the priorities for 2023, which we had gotten in advance. To the strategic objectives. And we basically just said, okay.
And always when we’re on Zoom, we’re using visual cues, but we had a workbook up that had both the strategic objectives and the 2023 goals.
And we said, “All right, let’s start with the first strategic objective. Which of the priorities map here, which connect?” And we just did a really simple kind of, you think of that old… Those kids’ workbooks where you draw a line from one thing to the other, it was like that.
Tucker: Yeah, totally. Which ones connect with each other?
Sarah: Yeah, everyone connects and the point was just to, at a lighter level, because we couldn’t do it more deeply, how do these things align so that people had in their minds how the work they were doing this year? It was mapping to strategically where the organization was going.
Tucker: And just to speak to that I want to make a note here of what you’re sharing, which is you can never under… You can never overestimate the power of using visuals for people. To your point, Sarah, of literally just like with kids. Where you have, like what fits to… When you can help people literally, visually see that, and that could be drawing on an iPad, that could be a, if you want to go to a PowerPoint deck or whatever.
There are tools like Miro is out there and there’s a variety of different tools that you can use to help do that too. But the faster you can get anything to visual for people and see the connection way better as opposed to saying, “Oh, launch programs to new audiences fits under strategic priority three.”
By even saying that I might get it. But when you can visualize while you’re saying that, it’s a lot more effective for people to learn.
Sarah: Yeah, a hundred percent. It makes them move cognitively much quicker when you have a visual. Yeah. So we did that piece really to set the stage and then we transitioned into this part around co-creating success.
Tucker, do you want to go through this part?
Tucker: Yeah. What was really neat about this is we used a tool called Easy Retro that we’ve used we’ve probably mentioned it before, and we’ll actually have. The link to the template of this particular easy retro board up in the show notes, so you can take a look at that and see how we took people through a sequence.
But the first step was inviting them all into a question around the five different 2023 goals. They had five of them, and we wanted them to be able to from their own vantage point, be able to answer the question, “What measurable change are you hoping to see in each one of these goals?” So we actually literally had five easy retro boards with all the different questions that we’re about to go through with you but the first step of that was around each one of the 2023 goals is asking this question and letting everybody in the room be able to type up what their answer is to that question.
Up into this easy retro board. And this goes back to the voices, hearing the voices piece. Some people, had a lot of clarity around what it was and some people had no idea what it was. And what I love about Easy Retro is it’s actually an anonymous tool. Like we don’t know who wrote what.
You can make it not anonymous if you want, but you don’t know who wrote what. And so it creates a little bit of safety for people to be able to get up whatever might be there. And we invited people going back to that skateboard analogy to not be perfect, but just do your best based upon what you know right now.
And that enabled opening up that aperture with that question around a lot of data that was able to come from across the whole organization to be able to share what they are all saying that they want to make in terms of measurable change.
Sarah: Yeah, and before we asked them to do this, for each of the goals, we gave them an example and I want to share it with you.
I said, “Let’s say my personal priority this year is to get healthy. And I asked you the question, what measurable success do you want to be celebrating by the end of the year in relation to getting healthy?” What might you respond? Pop some answers up in the chat.
We heard things like lose 10 pounds, run one marathon, meditate 10 minutes for five days a week. And the point of this exercise was that there are a lot of different ways to get healthy. And only by defining success what success is or looks like. Can we be aligned on what we are actually working towards and then putting resources against?
So the goals they had actually set for 2023. They really weren’t numeric either. Similar to the strategic plan goals. And so the point was to hear, to say, maybe we all think we’re on the same page, but unless we have a target, we’re really not. And I think that example really clicked with folks.
Because all of a sudden they could see how without a target, that’s good. They’re not on the same page.
Tucker: Yeah. No, you’re totally right. And this brings up another point, which is we’ve shared this before, but is never overestimate the power of making things more explicit. We tend, and I’m included in this for sure, we tend to default with just assuming that people know.
And there’s a good chance that most likely they don’t. And your board doesn’t fully understand what’s really going on. Your staff doesn’t fully understand how all the pieces are working together. And so this is another way of helping to make the implicit explicit. So then from there, we invited them…
So we had that question, which is what measurable change are you hoping to see? And really are you, would you like to be celebrating by the end of 2023? That was really the question. And we open that up to the whole staff. We invited them to go into pairs and synthesize down into their top one to three measurable success targets that they see that was coming out of what everybody shared.
So what we’re doing in this case, and this is a common challenge that many leaders have with the co-creation type of process is they’re afraid to open up the aperture and open up the question to all the voices because they’re afraid that if they have that they have to do everything.
Or what if you have some rogue person who’s just like off doing something, or some crazy outlier like, oh, great, now we feel obligated. And the reality is you actually don’t, as long as you have this more convergent part of the process, which is synthesizing it down into what is the essence, what people shared in that previous question.
And so we invited them into going into again, small groups of pairs or trios to be able to come up with the top one to three measurable success targets based upon what everybody shared. And then the other thing that we had them do or ask them to do is, as they’re going through this, there’s always questions that come up naturally anyway. Like, “Huh. I wonder what this means,” that we might need to answer. And so the second part of their small group was around writing down in the easy retro board. So we’re all still in the same easy retro board. What questions might you need to ask and answer in order for us to be able to move forward?
For example, what don’t you know that you might need to in order to achieve those one to three measurable success targets that you put together? So that was the next sequence in the process, which was to get to those measurable success targets based upon what was written up before, and then what questions might we need to ask, and answer in order to move forward.
Sarah: Yeah. And one thing I want to note here is that you are probably thinking, “Oh, how much time did you give them hours? This sounds so crazy.” We give them 10 minutes in breakout rooms to do what Tucker just said. We gave pairs 10 minutes to take all of this data around all of the possible targets to synthesize them to one to three, and to come up with questions.
And one thing we get a lot is, and this is why we. Talk about the skateboard is people want all this time to talk and hem and haw and discuss. And when we force folks to get it down quickly, it may not be perfect yet. In fact, it’s not. That’s the point. But getting people to work quicker is something that we do a lot.
Because oftentimes when we give ourselves all the space and time, that’s when we expect it to be perfect. And if we just say, what do we have now? What can we do now? It lowers that psychological burden.
Tucker: I’m so glad you brought that point in. because it’s, that’s where the power of the skateboard is so helpful for iteration, essentially.
So then after that, Sarah, I think what we did, I’m looking at our session lab here, which is our agenda tool. By the way, if you haven’t used Session lab and you do a lot of agendas, that’s a great one. But then from there, we had them come back into the main room and share what they came up with. Share what they came up with.
Sarah: They share it out to everyone. What they had and and then we said, “Great, let’s go on altitude lower.” So hopefully you’re seeing in this design it’s like a funnel. And we do this a lot. We’re starting wide and we’re chunking down until at the end we are at the smallest possible place, similar to the board choreography we took you through earlier.
But once folks had shared targets and folks ask questions, we then sent them back out into breakout rooms based on their interest around what they want to work on to take those one to three targets and say, okay, what activities would we need to do in order to reach those targets? How might we prioritize those activities?
What do I want to do in 30 days in 60 days and in 90 days? And so for example, if my target was, I want to reach 500 young people in my program by the end of the year, what are the activities I need to do? Maybe I need to recruit them, maybe I need to, et cetera, et cetera. And then what do I want to do first, second, and third?
And so we had folks do that really to start to get. Out of this, “Okay, here’s just the thing.” And into the operationalizing, into the, how am I actually gonna do this over space and time.
Tucker: Yeah. And so the sequence that we took them through with that, and Sarah, I’m trying to remember if we had them brainstorm activities in the main room, or did we have them brainstorm activities just on their own before they brought them into the small group? Do you remember on that part?
Sarah: Yeah. I think that they brainstormed activities. In the small, in the breakout room.
Tucker: Yeah. Yeah. So if you, going back to this sequence. We went from what measurable change would you like to be celebrating by the end of 2023, around that particular goal?
We did that in a large group, and broke it down into small groups. In those small groups, they came up with one to three measurable success targets, and then what questions might we need to ask and answer. And then from there, the next part of the sequence was, “Let’s brainstorm activities.” And this is just the brain dump.
Like what are all the activities not in any sequential order that you need to do in order to achieve these success targets. Just like what Sarah was saying, but it was kinda like a brain dump. It was like, it may be as granular as I need to write an email to that we need to be able to send out to those young people.
Like whatever it might be. I need to get something on the calendar. I need to create a rhythm around… It could be whatever those activities might be. And then from the brainstorming of those activities, then have them look at those activities in their small groups. Because we put them into small groups again, and then now prioritize and then sequence those activities.
So it was like brain dump of activities, prioritize which activities really are the most impactful and potentially require the least effort. And then take them into sequencing those around what do we need to do in 30 days? What do we need to do in 60 days and what do we need to do in 90 days?
Sarah: Yeah, and what I love about that set of three steps that you just went through, is if you think about, if you skipped the first step and said, in order of priority, all the things you need to do, you’d probably be like, “Ah, I have no idea.” But by saying brain dump, anything you think you need to do and then prioritize, it makes it much easier for folks. Because they can just get into the ideas and then later they can think about the sequence.
And so that’s one thing I think in general about this workshop is it helps. People cognitively to take the easiest step first and then builds from a difficulty perspective on that easiest first building block.
Tucker: And the other thing too, with brainstorming activities in a group setting is, there are definitely plenty of things that I am not even thinking about that you, Sarah, will be thinking about, and you’ll put those up there.
So it’s helpful around a particular topic. In this case, again, accomplishing these one to three success targets. It brings in a diversity of approach and a diversity of thought into what are all the different types of things that we need to get done. To your point, it’s really helpful to just have that brain dump first before you go into prioritize.
Sarah: Yes. Yeah. And then, after that they, again they came out and they shared. So hopefully you’re seeing a pattern. Every time folks go out, they come back and they share with the full group so that everybody knows what happens. And they’re all on the same page. One thing that happens a lot is that information gets siloed very easily in organizations.
And part of the approach with this workshop and others is to say, every time we go into, Talk about something in a smaller group, let’s come out and share it so everybody’s aligned with what happened.
Tucker: That’s great. So now, Sarah, we’ve got tasks, we’ve got, we prioritize activities. We keep, we just keep chunking down 30, 60, 90-day activities.
But then now what do we do? What’s the further chunk?
Sarah: Yeah, the last bit here is or the second to last bit is roles and rhythms. And we want to make sure before we left the room, that we help folks identify where they had energy and how they wanted to work together, very specifically, going forward.
And oftentimes again, this is a step that’s missed in workshops and meetings. We say we want to do this together and we forget to say who’s in charge and when we’re gonna meet next. And then all of a sudden I have to send…
Tucker: Who actually wants to do this?
Sarah: Yeah, exactly. And so we like to try to get that done in the room. And so what we did again, is we used an easy retro board. And we had folks pop up the name, their name under the goal or the goals where they had energy. And it wasn’t maybe their final place of landing, but it was where do you have energy right now? Pick a few and put your name up there. And then how frequently would you like to meet with the other people that have energy around that goal in support of moving this work forward?
And I think we gave them a few kind of thought joggers biweekly, weekly, monthly so that they could think into a set of categories there. And then, we started by hiding the cards. So people type up their answers and you can’t see anybody else’s.
They’re blurred out. And then we reveal the card so everybody can see everybody’s answer. And again, This goes back partially to Tucker’s point around this tool is great for anonymity so that if I feel scared about putting… Is somebody else gonna put their name here? What if I put my name there?
You get rid of that. And people can put things up anonymously and then you reveal once everything’s there so as to avoid any feelings of nervousness or anxiousness. And then everybody can see immediately what everybody else said, not what the CEO said, not what Sarah or Tucker want, but what the whole group thinks.
And it’s a great way to really bypass the loudest voice syndrome, which is something that happens all the time.
Tucker: All the time. All the time. You know what’s interesting about this part too, Sarah, around energy, and we talked about this too with the board the other day too, but this one’s interesting with staff like you have people who already have jobs.
They have job roles and descriptions, and what if somebody puts their name up on something? You know what if you’re a program person and then you put your name up under donor management? What’s interesting to me about that, I’m curious your perspective on this, is a little bit of the approach to people’s jobs and roles that it’s this ongoing continual refinement of where they not only have energy, but also where they have skill and continuing as we look and lean into learning how to be, even at THRIVE IMPACT, more clearly defining energy and strength that we’re a strength-based organization.
Which means getting people into areas where they have strength and also have energy. It’s just an interesting sort of pulse check for my perspective of… Like for example if you put your name under something that’s not your typical role that’s some really helpful information.
It doesn’t mean that you’re shifting, it doesn’t mean if they put their name up now, therefore that’s everything that they’re doing. But it may be a way to catalyze a conversation around where somebody is, and retention actually, and helping to maintain and retain people in the space that is both helpful for the organization and helpful for that person in the first place.
Sarah: Yeah, I completely agree. And another organization we worked with on a full strategic planning process as they were going to implement the process driver or project driver of the strategic direction said to me, “I have this one young man who wants to take ownership over one of the strategic goals and his manager is nervous about it.”
He’s nervous, he’s not gonna have enough time to do his regular work. He’s going to lose focus. And the project manager asked the manager of this young man, what happens if we don’t give this guy an opportunity to grow? He’s gonna leave. And so strategic directions, to your point, offer this opportunity for people to step up and step into other roles in ways that other things don’t.
I could sit in my box all day long in my organization and not ever have the room to grow and a strategic plan comes along and all of a sudden I get a new opportunity. And what happens if we don’t give that to folks? What happens? They go.
Tucker: That’s great. That’s what a great story around what happens if we don’t let them go into that energy and figuring out a pathway for what that might look like.
Sarah: Yeah, for sure.
Yeah. She had to really have some conversations with the manager saying, don’t worry, I’ll make sure he gets his work done. And so to your point, you can’t just be like, go do a whole nother job, but what’s the opportunity for both?
Tucker: Yeah. The other question we asked, as you were saying, we asked where is your energy around each one of the goals?
How frequently should the groups meet? But we also asked them, “To co-create, how frequently should all of the groups reconvene to share learnings?” Sarah, why was that so important and why is that so important in an organization? Even as small as this one is?
Sarah: Yeah, honestly, I think this is one of the most important pieces for a strategic plan actually working.
The reality is strategic plans are setand created. They have a set of goals in them, but goals are interconnected. And so the ability for all of the folks working on different goals to come together. One, people get to learn from what others are doing, but two, it helps reduce duplication and overlap.
And so one of the things we really advocate for is that all of kind of the groups working on different goals come together on a quarterly basis, ideally, if not more, to share learnings, to share areas of overlap, and to make sure you know that duplication isn’t happening.
Tucker: That’s great. Yeah. I think we default as humans into siloing.
Sarah: We do. Yeah. And into ownership. This is mine.
Tucker: And then finally we close with heart, which is one thing we always do at the end of almost every meeting or workshop, which is really closing. Not with tasks and tactics and surveys and whatever, but closing with some form of reflection usually is what it is.
And in this case, I believe we asked the question for them… What was the most… Here it is, “What was the most meaningful or valuable part of today’s experience for you?” And we were asking this question, not so much about us at THRIVE IMPACT. And more about what was meaningful or valuable about me being with their team and the components of being with their team?
And it brought up some really great things. Somebody said, “Togetherness, this is the most connected zoom I’ve ever experienced.” “Learning what’s most important to the rest of the team,” somebody else shared. “I think we get tunnel vision sometimes in our own tasks,” she actually spoke to that.
Yes. Another person said, “Getting the whole picture with my team.” Somebody else said, “Bringing greater clarity to our work and to how our work fits together.” Another person said, “Getting things out of my head and getting them onto a screen instead.” You’re hearing some of the purposes and why was this meaningful or valuable for each one of these different types of leaders in this organization.
The last one I’ll share is somebody shared, “I love watching colleagues get excited about what they are interested in.” That’s why I love that energy question because if you have energy around it, what happens?
Sarah: You get excited.
Tucker: You have excitement. You’re like, you literally have energy.
If you don’t have any energy around something, what does it look like? What does it feel like? What does it sound like? Okay. Fine. I guess. But that’s, that also creates a contagion either way. And so that was interesting to hear what this person said is that asking people about where their energy was helped to almost generate more energy in the room.
Sarah: Yeah. It’s excitement. It’s about the unexplored, it’s about the new. And I think one thing we’ve been running into a lot lately that this resonates with is this fear of the new. Fear of co-creating, fear of opening the aperture. And hopefully what you’ve seen in this workshop series is that you can open the aperture as a leader.
Take the blinds off, open the doors, get those windows up, bring in some fresh air. And it doesn’t mean that folks aren’t gonna go back and do their job that, you know that they’re going to not want to work there anymore, but rather actually the opposite. People are gonna be energized by the opportunity to contribute and by the idea of having something new to work into.
Tucker: Yeah. Well, Sarah, I’m so in appreciation for you and pushing me even beyond my own comfort zone with no, we gotta go here. And you really, especially those easy retro boards, Sarah, I just love how you are so good at sequencing things in a way that helps to chunk it down to like boots on the ground getting stuff done.
And this was just a powerful facilitated experience that you were able to really help lead the charge on to make it to where people said these things. They said that, “I’m able to get it out. I’m able to understand what matters to other people.” So appreciate you, Sarah, for taking this one to the level of sophistication that you’re able to take it to.
It was great.
Sarah: Thank you for helping facilitate it and make it awesome.
Tucker: Yeah. Well everybody, if you’re listening this far we’re gonna put a bunch of things up in the show notes. We’ll put a template of one of the easy retro boards so you can literally visualize the sequence of how we took people through that process.
We’ll also have a link to a sample of our agenda for you to be able to go even in a more granular way with what’s in there. So you can see a little bit of what we shared. But again, this is something if you’re bringing people together, this is a good annual process maybe that you might want to do or maybe a quarterly process you could do too.
There’s a lot of different rhythms you might have around this. But really helpful sequence of being able to take people through that, you could probably facilitate yourself as well. Alright, everyone, thanks for being a part and we’ll see you on the next podcast.
Bye everyone.
Sarah: Thanks y’all.