Thursday, April 14, 2005

Strategic Thinking and Planning: A Team Sport

In her book The Nimble Collaboration, author Karen Ray identifies a number of emerging best practices. One of them is” modify partner agencies’ mission statements”. She describes the practice: “Chapter 1 (in The Nimble Collaboration) spoke of the collaboration’s mission statement as a placeholder, making room for each partner agency’s mission statement. But at the large end of the collaboration scale, partner agencies are turning this practice on its head: they are changing their individual mission statements to reflect the mission of the collaboration. Such changes show the depth of the partner agencies’ commitment to the goal of collaboration. They also ensure that the work of the collaboration is continued beyond the tenure of the agency representative, and even beyond the membership of the organization in the collaboration, because the agency itself has changed. For example, a variety of organizations in Ramsey County, Minnesota have decided that violence is a key barrier to their goals. Domestic abuse shelters, teen clubs, and law enforcement agencies have all added a phrase to their individual mission and philosophy statements that emphasizes their commitment to reduce violence as part of their mission."

This practice reflects an exciting trend: numbers of organizations engaging in joint strategic planning efforts. Sometimes the planning focuses on a common issue, for example, developing a collaborative strategic plan to reducing teen pragnancy in Milwaukee. Other times, the common denominator may be geographic proximity of a number of organizations that begin to plan a coordinated regional response to a range of interrelated issues. By the way, The Nimble Collaboration, another fine publication from the Amherst Wilder Foundation, can be purchased at