EP 2: Strategic Planning – Part 2: Being Strengths-Based & Inclusive

August 11, 2022

Show Notes

Have you ever heard the old cliché of the strategic plan that sits on the shelf gathering dust? Haven’t we all? But it’s a cliche for a reason–because it has been true for so long.

But a better question is: Why is it true?

In this episode, Tucker Wannamaker, CEO of THRIVE IMPACT, and Sarah Fanslau, Chief of Impact, discuss how newer approaches to strategic planning can help improve culture, increase impact, and ensure that the old cliché doesn’t apply to your nonprofit.

We talk about and define these approaches, including Appreciative Inquiry and co-creation, and share how, when combined, they can help organizations actually shift how they address and deal with change over time.

This episode will help you take strategic planning out of the board room and bring it into the break room–where it has belonged all along.



The Case for Appreciative Inquiry

What is Appreciative Inquiry? on PositivePsychology.com

Building the Co-creative Enterprise on Harvard Business Review

The Drucker Institute

Dr. David Cooperrider

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Tucker: Hey, there. Welcome to THRIVERS: Nonprofit Leadership for the Next Normal. I am your host Tucker Wannamaker, the CEO of THRIVE IMPACT. Our mission is to solve nonprofit leader burnout. Burnout is the enemy of creating positive change. And we want to connect you with impactful, mission-driven leaders and concepts that you can learn to thrive in today’s nonprofit landscape.

I am joined by our Chief of Impact, Sarah Fanslau, today.

Sarah, great to be on here with you.

Sarah: Hey, Tucker. Great to be here.

Tucker: You know, this is really the second in a four-part series around Strategic Planning. And I remember as we talked in our last one, why are so many strategic plans going wrong?

Why do we have this cliché inside of Strategic Planning and nonprofits, the old cliché of nonprofits sitting on the shelf, or no, sorry – Strategic Plans sitting on the shelf gathering dust! And so we wanted to go through why those things happen and some of our approaches that we take when it comes to Strategic Planning.

So that way it’s actually effective for a nonprofit. What a concept, huh?

Sarah: A hundred percent. Yeah, we see this all the time. People create plans and goals, and then they put them on the shelf, often because, you know, only a few people participated in making those plans and those goals. So there’s no buy-in, right? And, so nobody wants to work against them. A hundred percent.

What have you seen? What are some of the reasons why you think plans are sitting on the shelf?

Tucker: Oh, mainly because they’re top down oriented. Right? It’s people coming up with answers and telling everybody else what to do.

I think two, because they don’t include all voices. I mean, there’s so many things – people have energy towards what they get to create.

Three, they come at it from a wrong approach. And that’s what we’re gonna talk about a little bit more today. They come at it from an approach that doesn’t build on the strengths. It actually can almost build off of what’s wrong, which we don’t really enjoy talking about that, sometimes. We have a different approach here in terms of how to go about doing it.

And also because people don’t treat it as a dynamic direction, they treat it as a plan that’s like now it’s done.

Sarah: It’s static.

Tucker: Yeah. It’s like a static plan, hence sitting on the shelf gathering dust, like we did that thing – now it’s done. When this is really not a Strategic Plan, it’s actually a Strategic Direction that we need to learn more about, and live into, and explore.

Sarah: I love that. Well, that’s a perfect segue into my first question for you. We use a few things at the base of our approach here at THRIVE IMPACT to help folks ensure those things we just talked about don’t happen, and I’d love for you to define them for us.

So what is Appreciative Inquiry and co-creation? Can you define these things for us?

Tucker: Yeah, so Appreciative Inquiry is our primary facilitation methodology that we use. In a nutshell, what it is, is a strengths-based, strengths-focused, generative approach to creating conversations, to include voices, and to enable systemic change. It’s actually been used in workplaces around the world to heighten creativity, to boost engagement, to strengthen relationships, to increase revenues.

I’m sure many of the nonprofits would like to do that. To reduce costs, to improve profitability, which by the way as a nonprofit, we need profitability, right? It’s just a tax status, not a business model. And we also need to, in order to enhance sustainability, of the efforts themselves. But in a nutshell, what it is, is it’s the search for the best of what has been, what is, and what could be, and us doing that together as a collective.

Sarah: So instead of saying what’s wrong and how do I fix it? Appreciative Inquiry helps us ask what’s possible. Right? Is that it?

Tucker: Yeah, and, the founder of Appreciative Inquiry was a gentleman named Dr. David Cooperrider out of Case Western University. One of the things that he said is that we live in a world our questions create. The quality of our questions are what shape our future.

And so what Appreciative Inquiry does is, is it leans into appreciation first. And you know, if you look at some of these definitions, “appreciate” is to value and to increase in value. I love the play on words that appreciation has. And “inquiry” is the process of exploring and discovering – to ask questions and being open to seeing new possibilities.

And while some people sometimes will see this as a space that comes out of positive psychology. But what it really is, is not just positivity. Cause that can get bland and that can get like, “Wait, are we actually going to figure things out?” It’s actually based upon strengths. In fact, Peter Drucker, the late management psychologist and organizational management person said the task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths, making a system’s weaknesses irrelevant.

But let me actually give you a specific example, which I’m sure many of you, especially if you have kids in elementary, middle, or high school can probably relate to this. You know, my daughter came home the other day with a report card and showed me that she had like three A’s, two B’s and a C.

Now, how do I approach this? Now, I know, as you know, like I teach on this stuff! I know what I need to do, which is I need to focus on the strength. And I know that based on the science, that the more that I unpack with her, what helped her get an A will actually be what will help her to raise that C but no, what do I do sometimes?

Of course…

Sarah: Focus on that C, straight up.

Tucker: Right to that C, right. So, uh, so what happened with your C? Right?

Appreciative Inquiry and the science behind it says, how might we look at what are the strengths, right? What created the space and the conditions that allowed for my daughter to get A’s.

And we know, again, based upon the science behind this, that the more we focus on those strengths of what helped her to get an A is actually what’s gonna help her raise that C, versus me focusing on the C is actually less effective and less helpful.

Sarah: Yeah, I love that. So instead of focusing on what’s wrong, we focus on where we’re strong.[a]

And then instead of saying, or telling things to people, we use questions to help unlock a deeper conversation that can generate change. Yeah, I love that.

That question about, or that quote about “We live in a world our questions create.” is such a mind opener for me. Because I feel like, you know, oftentimes as a leader, one, you do go right to what’s the problem. Because that’s your job to fix it, supposedly.

Right? Although maybe not anymore. But, two, we tell people instead of ask people. And that fundamental shift of approach to instead of telling, asking, is such a powerful, powerful shift. Well, I love that.

Tucker: And, what you’re hitting on with questions. You know, there’s a famous case study around British Airways.

And, you know, they had this issue with their baggage. Like has anybody on this podcast and listeners ever gone to the airport, you know, you flew from one place to another place and you show up and there your bag IS NOT. You’re like, “Oh crap. Oh, shoot. What’s gonna happen?” This has actually happened to me internationally before, that’s even worse. And you get there and, you know, your bag’s not there.

Well, they had this problem at scale. The bags were arriving late on a regular basis for their customers. And so they had an option to ask themselves different types of questions.

One question which is not necessarily wrong. It’s a lot of how we typically approach these things is, “How do I solve this baggage problem?” Right? “How do I solve the baggage problem?”

And you know, so there’s a need, there’s an analysis of causes, there’s possible solutions, and then there’s action planning. Well, in this case, what they ended up asking themselves was a better question. And this question shaped their future before the future even arrived. And that was, “How might we create an exceptional arrival experience?”

Sarah: Right. Totally different!

Tucker: Totally different. Right. And so they started to go into that space of generating what is the best of who they have been and what do we actually even want in the first place?

These types of questions start to shift, again as David Cooperrider said, start to shape the future before the future even arrives. And these are strengths-based questions. And so they were able to solve their problem and get more even, you know, and go beyond just by asking a different question ahead of time.

Sarah: That is so powerful. That is so powerful. So you’ve told us a lot about Appreciative Inquiry. Let’s talk a little bit about co-creation. What is that?

Tucker: Well, you know, it’s a fascinating space that I’ve continued to learn more about. Especially in terms of some of the tension that it brings up for people.

Here’s what I’ve learned. We come from a world where it was the job of the leader to be the few who had the answers. And in a world where the speed of change was not nearly as complex, or as fast. We’re seeing exponential curve type of growth around the speed of change and the complexity of change that exists around us.

Especially in the nonprofit space. Oh, my gosh. We come from a world that, that said that a leader, their job was to be the few who had the answers. Well, but we’re not in a space right now where, one, because of the amount of change, that we’re able to really even have all the answers, first of all.

And second of all, we need to figure out how might we unlock the best of our, and the heads and the hearts of, the people that we work with that we serve? How might we co-create solutions with those we even have programs built around? How might we co-create a donor program with our actual donors?

And people, it’s a courageous journey of one admitting, “Hey, I don’t have all the answers”, And two, what we know is that people have energy towards what they get to create. In fact, I’m learning this right now with somebody on our team. I’m exploring and realizing some of the language that she had been using with me was around not feeling like she saw herself in some of our programs.

And I was like, you know what I realized, is co-creation came up for me. I was like, I have not created the right space of co-creation. I’ve not included a psychologically safe space for her voice to be included in a real way. And so what I’ve realized with co-creation is that it requires courage. It requires a desire to actually seek the real voices in an honest, genuine way. None of us like to receive questions that people don’t actually wanna know the answers to.

Sarah: A hundred percent.

Tucker: Right. Yeah. But what I’ve also learned is that in co-creation, it does unlock collective intelligence.

It unlocks, by engaging all voices through a variety of different types of methods, that creates space for all voices to come in. And let me give you an example of that. We use a tool in our process called Easy Retro. I love it. It’s a great tool.

Sarah: It’s so good.

Tucker: And it’s a way, we’ve all been a part of those meetings where, this happens in board meetings all the time, where we have the vocal minority and the silent majority, right?

You have a group of 15 people in the room and three of them are talking the whole time. And 12 of them haven’t said a word.

Does that mean those 12 don’t have voices? Of course not. Does that mean those 12 don’t have anything to say? I mean, maybe some of them perhaps, I don’t know. But the fact that we have not even created the space that allows for all voices to come in the room, is a problem.

So for example, some of the things that we’ve done in co-creation is created a space using tools, like Easy Retro. Literally, we ask questions up in the Easy Retro and allow for all staff, and we’ve done this with, like what, 150 people on the zoom once, right? Where they’re able to put their voice up in there in a typed way.

That’s one tool, but there are multiple different types of choreographies that allow for the process of unlocking and bringing all voices into a room.

Sarah: Yeah, I love that. And what it speaks to, for me, is this idea that I think has really gained prominence in the last 10 or so years, is that there’s so many different types of knowledge. And that we need to create systems that value all of those different types of knowledge and knowing. Right? It used to be that, you know, the person who went to the best school and had the best resume was the one who knew. And we only gave prominence to “expert voices”.

And I think what we know now is that there’s so many different types of knowledge, and that they’re all important to designing and building the best thing. And co-creation is the vehicle that allows us to create the space for those different types of knowledges to come out.

Tucker: It’s so true. I mean, we were just in a workshop earlier today, Sarah. Right?

And, and that woman, the nonprofit leader that was in there was sharing about, “I’m a different type of leader. Like, I don’t need to be the loud, loud leader. That’s not actually who I am.” All of the people, all of your people at a nonprofit are leaders because they have influence over the work that you do.

Right. And if they have influence, which they do, whether it’s a positive influence or a negative influence is another question. An appreciative influence or a depreciative influence. But each one of them have leadership and each one of them have, to your point, unique knowledge that they bring into these experiences.

And so how might we create the conditions that allow for those types of things to thrive.

Sarah: A hundred percent. Yeah.

Tucker: And I, the other point too that I realized as well, is DEIB is a big topic, right? Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

Big topic in our space, and it needs to be. It’s an important and vital lens that we need to view the world within.

But I’ve found that so many people are missing it when it comes to the very meetings that we have. Right?

Sarah: A hundred percent, yeah.

Tucker: Staff meetings. Board meetings. Like, we talk about it and maybe we’ll bring in “diverse staff”, but we actually don’t create a space of inclusion of the diverse voices.

Right? We do this with meetings. I remember doing a workshop with the Colorado Nonprofit Association and I appreciated their vision. The topic was around reimagining culture and connection. And I was like, if we’re gonna reimagine culture and connection, don’t just get a panel up on stage and have four people yakking at people for the next 75 minutes.

And they had the vision to really look into this and see, how do we bring this group, and there was like 125 people in this room. It was in person. “How do we bring the diverse voices of everybody in the room, into the room in some way, shape or form?”

And so a lot of what co-creation is, is the process of creating those conditions and the psychologically safe spaces for voices to all really come.

Sarah: A hundred percent. And what I love about what you just said, and about this frame is that it is a really practical way, it’s a practical approach to inclusion, right?

And before I think it was hard for folks to put their finger on what it meant to include people. And co-creation is the process by which inclusion of all voices can happen. So, if you’re sitting there thinking, “I like this, how do I do it?” The answer, or one of the answers is, a hundred percent, co-creation.

Tucker, as we think about kind of, you know, the core concept of this podcast is the next normal of nonprofits. Why is Appreciative Inquiry and co-creation, why are these two things the next normal of strategic planning?

Tucker: Well, we’ve already spoken to some of it. One is the rate of change, right? The rate of change, the speed and complexity of change that’s happening around us is moving well beyond what we’re able to adapt to in the old ways that we’ve done things.

So your strategic planning process that you’ve gone through, where you and your board, and maybe a consultant go into, I like to jokingly call it, your “leadership cave”.

Right? You go on your board retreat and you don’t include the voices of your staff. And by the way, when I say “include the voices of your staff”, I don’t mean by checking off a box of obligation by doing a survey.

I mean, they feel humanly involved in the process. But, with this world speed going so fast, we need to unlock the leadership in all of our team. And so what co-creation does and Appreciative Inquiry and that approach actually really does do some of that.

And I think too, to what we just shared around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, is we have an imperative to create an inclusive environment. It’s exactly what we just talked about.

So there’s this imperative for us to include these voices because we need to create spaces and well, and the other reason is because, I mean Sarah you’ve seen this, the frontline staff have more of the answers and more of the knowledge than a board member who’s mostly not engaged in the process, who’s not in the trenches of the work.

And that’s what I love is when the board members and the frontline staff get together in a real honest experience of connection and strategic planning. Because it creates a space where, as you said, there’s so much knowledge that’s there. And we need to tap into it.

Sarah: Totally. Yeah. For me, I think those two are right on. As a nonprofit leader myself, you know I was recently the Vice President of Programs at a national organization focused on civic engagement and service learning. And one of the things I’m super passionate about is making an impact and measuring that impact.

And I’ll tell you just to be totally honest, that when I started working, you know, I came in and I had a duty to run some programs that operated across 11 states and 250 schools, it was a big program and there was a lot that needed to be changed about it. And I came in, I made some changes and then I gave it to the staff and I said, here you go, go implement it.

And, it didn’t work that well, I’m just gonna cut right to the chase. People were like, “I’m sorry, excuse me? I’ve been here doing this program for, in some cases, 10 years, and you’re gonna come in here, tell me what’s wrong and then tell me how to do it better? Nuh uh.”

And so, you know, I really learned. And I said, “Okay, if I know there’s changes that need to be made based on the research around effective practices of service learning, and there’s knowledge in the staff who have been doing this, how can I combine those things to produce the best possible outcome?” And so we started doing things like having, you know, summer working groups that were designed around specific challenges or problems that we had seen come up over the year, the course of the school year, that we knew we wanted to make changes for in the new school year.

So we got into the cycle or rhythm of learning, forming co-created working groups to address the problem, and then implementing the solutions that we had learned. And so it was like a yearly, rapid-learning cycle that we got into that was all about staff voice. And that for me as a leader, I was like, “This is the answer! There’s no other way to work.”

Because I saw staff have ownership over what they wanted to do. And that was what generated the biggest impact.

Tucker: Sarah, one of the things that’s on the minds of a lot of nonprofit leaders right now is employee staffing, culture and engagement, things like that.

What did that do for your culture? Like what did that do for your staff? Any stats, or data, or even just stories that you have around what that approach ended up doing and shifting in your organization?

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, within the program team we developed a very different culture than was true in the rest of the organization. And it was one in which connection was centered. So every time we had a meeting or gathering, we first connected and in which we could have real transparent open conversations, right? We created psychological safety, which we know is at the base of a high performing team.

And so really that co-creation is what significantly created a great culture, but the culture in some ways was confined a little bit to the program team where I was leveraging those approaches.

And, I saw, you know, staff stay on. I saw them be satisfied with their jobs. I saw them go out and really try hard, right, at their work, even when they didn’t always have all the resources that they needed to do it. So that’s a little bit about what I saw.

Tucker: Well, and I think what you’re hitting on is that Appreciative Inquiry and co-creation, this type of process and approach, is not a “nice to have”. It’s a new way of leading, right? It’s a more updated way of leading, but it’s not a “nice to have”. For example, I know that there was an independent review found, on Appreciative Inquiry, that 90% of Appreciative Inquiry change approaches succeed in workplaces.

Sarah: That’s crazy.

Tucker: There some fascinating stats too. There was this one organization Nutrimental Foods. They invited employees to help transform the organization’s strategy. They leveraged Appreciative Inquiry. And within one year they had increased productivity by 23%. They had decreased absenteeism by 300%.

Sarah: Wow.

Tucker: Whoa. They increased the sales of their work by 27%. And they were able to be more profitable, which again, as a nonprofit, we need to be profitable. It’s just that our profit doesn’t go to shareholders. It goes back into our mission. But they were able to grow their profitability by 200%.

I mean, this type of work has backing, has significance, and especially in this day and age that we exist in right now around the great resignation that people call it, I’ve been calling it the great reassessment. People are reassessing whether or not they want to, you know our missions to solve non-profit leader burnout, and they’re reassessing whether or not they really want to be involved in those types of cultures. Right?

Well, this is a very active and very science-backed type of way of going about doing strategic planning, but also any of your work and your meetings, that will help you increase your ability to maintain staff, retain staff.

I noticed this by the way, a newer stat on the longevity of fundraisers. It used to be 18 months, which is still terrible. It’s down to like 10 months now. The longevity of fundraisers inside of organizations is 10 months. That hurts the nonprofit. That hurts the fundraiser. That hurts the ED. That hurts the donors. That hurts everybody involved in the whole process.

Sarah: Yeah. You can’t even, I mean, 10 months! You’re not even, barely, you can’t even get to know an organization in 10 months. That is insane. Yeah, I one hundred percent agree. I mean, for me as a leader, once I began to use these approaches, there was no other approach to use it.

It wasn’t like, “Oh, I can go back to having all the answers in the top-down.” It was immediately, “Oh no, this is the new way that leaders are going to make a difference.”

Well, so, you know, we have folks listening here that are like, “This sounds great, how do I do it?” What, what does that look like? What are some practical ways nonprofit leaders can use Appreciative Inquiry and co-creation to support organizational change and growth?

Tucker: Well, yeah. You know, one step is something we use called the “I” process. We actually have six “I”s, but I’ll pair it down to the most basic “I”s, which are four.

Again, this comes out of Dr. David Cooperrider. Uh, he actually had the four “D”s, but we adjusted them to “I”s because it made a little more sense for what we were doing. But the four “I”s are essentially, you know, if we have a problem, we don’t ask ourselves the question, “How do we solve the problem?”

The first question we ask ourselves, and the first I is Identity, which is, “What is the best of us?” So whether that’s at a high altitude level, like a strategic plan, or it’s even at the lower altitude level, like a nitty gritty specific program that you’re doing, or a donor community, or whatever.

What has been the best of you? So you start there, you start from what are the strengths. From Identity – so what is the best of us that’s appreciating your past, defining your strengths – is you actually go into the future first. Some powerful research from Dr. Benjamin Hardy, who’s an organizational psychologist said that when we bring elements of the future into the present, it makes the present that much more relevant and real for us.

And so you need to go there though for a moment, which is, “What is our bright future?” So that second “I” is, Imagine. So you go from the best of the past, into the best of the future and envisioning what we collectively believe is our bright future. So a way of asking that is, you could say again, based on the altitude of work that you’re doing, “A year from today, what do we want to be celebrating about our donor program? Beyond just revenue. What do we want to feel? What do we want it to sound like?” You can even do it like a week from today. I could even do it at the end of today, what do I want to see? Right. Doesn’t matter how, you can go five years from today, whatever you want, but, you know, in terms of that. But the Imagine is the next “I”.

The “I” after that comes in with Innovate, which is, “How might we then take action?” So based upon the best of the past and what we are saying that we want, well then how might we take action? And that’s the Innovate stage.

And this is a sequence you can take. And that’s really in the co-creating the strategy and the strategic initiatives and your desired impact outcomes that you’re wanting.

And, by the way, a little pro tip around “how might we” questions, one way to create a co-created space in any atmosphere, is turn any challenge that you have into a, “how might we” question?

“I’m really struggling with how to get our team more engaged. How might we get our team more engaged?” Right?

That right off the bat, turns me from being grumpy face Tucker, right into, you know, into saying statements into a space of, “Huh. Maybe I don’t need to have the answer. Maybe I can co-create that.” And you can say, “how might we” and then add a question mark at the end. And that’s a simple way of starting to turn that around.

And then the final “I“ is Implement, literally, “What are our next steps?” What are our next steps? Again, most people go to Implement – what do we need to do? Right? But the journey of getting there is really important. And so crafting some of those questions around, what’s been the best of us. What is our bright future with Imagine. How might we take action with Innovate. And then what are our next steps with Implement, is a good path forward.

Sarah: Yeah, I love these four questions together. And in particular, I love the, you know, a year from now what do we want to be celebrating? Because I think it opens up people. All of a sudden they’re able to take off the weight of expectation, of what is, of what’s existed, and just imagine.

And so often we just don’t, we don’t have that space to imagine. And so that is one of the questions I love in particular, but folks could use these to co-create an agenda, right? For their next staff meeting. To design something with a board member. To invite staff to use. Even when engaging with clients or patients. Right? We could even really have staff use these questions with the folks that they serve.

So these “I”s are super transferable and relatable and can be used in many different ways to co-create.

Tucker: Yeah, absolutely.

Sarah: And then what else? What else is coming up for you as you think about practical steps folks can take?

Tucker: Well, I mean, I think it’s as you, as a leader. Like I’ve had to reflect. Going back to what I said earlier, co-creation takes courage. Co-creation takes the acknowledgement, which by the way, is one of the most important things that, I’m talking to all you CEOs and EDS out there, or you know, people who are leading teams, one of the most important things for your staff to see in you, is you changing your mind. Is you being open to learning. Is you saying, “I don’t have the answers.”

The moment you say, “I have the answers.” is the moment that you steal their energy from them. Right? People have energy towards things that they get to create. And so I just encourage all of you, practically, to pause and to notice when you’re feeling that tension rise in you, which I have had to do so many times this year, oh my gosh, Sarah. Around like I’ve noticed sometimes I’ll still retreat in my own little cave, right. In my own little world of isolation, thinking, “I should have the answer. I should have the answer.”

It’s okay. Right? It’s okay to say, “You know, I don’t have the answer. And in fact, I’d like to engage all of you, and perhaps we might discover what is the best of us and what are we doing?”

Sarah: Totally. And not only, “I should have the answers.”, but sometimes, “I do have the answers.” is what you may be thinking as a leader when a staff member comes to you. I, you know, one of my things as a nonprofit leader was, you know, I would create a set of goals with staff members and we’d be working against those throughout the year, but so often I’d have a staff member … part of what you invite when you co-create is you empower people and empowering people means they’re gonna come to you with ideas all the time.

And that can be overwhelming, right? Especially when you’ve set a course and you’re like, “Oh, here’s the course we’re on.” And so I feel that tension of, “Wait, we’ve already decided what we’re gonna do.” And a new, and somebody comes to you with a new idea. I think what is beautiful is these processes invite you, or give you, the opportunity to sit back and to listen, right? To sit back and listen, and think about, and just give folks the space to share with you first as a leader, and then figure out together how, or whether it can fit into the course that you’ve charted. Or if the course needs to be adjusted or changed.

Tucker: Yeah. Well, and we’ve seen this being powerful. This is why this is a part of a strategic planning podcast series, because we’ve seen this to be a very powerful and effective approach to literally get us away from this whole world of the strategic plan sitting on the shelf gathering dust. Like, we don’t need that. We spend a lot of resources on strategic planning, and it’s important, right?

As we shared in the last episode, it’s important to take that space. So do it in a way that actually creates the energy, creates momentum, creates culture change, right? The old Peter Drucker quote, “Culture, eat strategy for breakfast.”

It happens all the time. So create the conditions that allow for people to do it.

And we’ve seen this too in some of our own stats. We had one particular nonprofit they had said 83.3% agreed that this strategic planning process improved their relationships with other members of their staff. 91.7% agreed that after this strategic planning process, people are interested in better ways of doing things. And 100% agreed or strongly-agree that the strategic direction makes them excited for the org’s future.

Don’t we all want that for our organizations? Excitement, momentum, buy-in, alignment…

Sarah: Agility.

Tucker: Yes. Like, these are the things that we want in a strategic planning process, and they have so much ripe opportunity for us as long as we do them right, in a way that is effective for us.

So, we gotta close this one. But I’m excited about the next episode! We’re going to be talking about how data-driven inquiry is the perfect compliment to your strategic plan. Data-driven alignment, especially. And I know you have some thoughts on data, Sarah. I’m curious, what might they expect in our next episode on THRIVERS?

Sarah: Yeah, well, this is a super important one. And for me, the biggest point here to make, and it goes back to there’s multiple ways of knowing, is that it’s not just quantitative data. Right? It is not just quantitative data.

We use a lot of qualitative data here at THRIVE IMPACT to help uncover and unpack voices and knowledge that need to be added to the experience, and put together in support of the strategic direction.

So, next week we’re going to be talking about what are the data sets you need to look at and how do you leverage them in support of creating the path forward?

Tucker: Well, and especially in a world of nonprofits where we have so much subjectivity.

Sarah: A hundred percent.

Tucker: How do we create an objective data-driven alignment tool that allows for us all to be able to point back to, and move forward around.

Awesome. Well, I can’t wait to hear more about that one. Everyone else, we’re glad you all joined us for this episode. And if you’re just looking in to know more about how to do all of this stuff we’re talking about, I’ve got good news!

Guess what? We offer free trainings every month. We have something called the THRIVE IMPACT 101 and we actually may start doing something called Awakening Conscious Leadership 101, as well, every month.

You can click on the link in the show notes to save your spot or just go on over to thriveimpact.org.

Thanks again for joining us. And we’ll see you on the next episode of THRIVERS: Nonprofit Leadership for the Next Normal.

Sarah: Thanks, y’all.