If you haven’t seen the recent Saturday Night Live skit featuring partygoers awkwardly conversing at their first post-pandemic social gathering, you’re in for a treat. The characters attend the party because they think they should, but most of them are secretly wondering if they were actually ready to get back to normal. How do you know when you’re ready to do anything after the year we’ve just lived through?
The same is true for nonprofit and school leaders who are contemplating embarking on large-scale strategic initiatives such as strategic planning. Launching this work should be carefully considered in the best of times. So, what’s the best way to know if your team and community are ready to take it on now? Here’s what nonprofit and school leaders who are kicking off strategic planning initiatives right now, are telling us about how they knew it was time.
Leader #1: “The Pandemic has shone a light on our lack of organizational/operational focus.
Before the pandemic, our organization would jump on every opportunity. We would develop programs when there was financial support vs. developing programs because they were seen as essential. This was only compounded during COVID-19 when we didn’t have a plan as a framework for decision making—yet we made hard decisions, nonetheless. We knew the minute we saw light at the end of the tunnel we needed to do the work.”
Leader #2: “After performing so well during the pandemic, it became clear our school is capable of more than just ‘getting back to normal.’
Make no mistake, we were doing well as a school before COVID-19—but the way our administrators, our teachers, and our families rose to the occasion these past 15-months, you would have thought we had pandemic contingency plans in place for years. Pulling together as we did helped us see ever so clearly how aligned we are as a community, and how well-suited we are to crushing goals when we put our minds to it. We couldn’t wait until we could harness that collective power toward proactively advancing education and our school.”
Leader #3: “We see recovery for our organization as a slow 12-18-month climb. And we need a plan for building back.
We contracted in budget and headcount by a considerable factor. So we’re a smaller organization now that is doing more with less. The needs are still there, but we’ve had to be realistic about what we need to do vs. what we can do given our new situation. We know we’re not going to snap back to the same headcount /revenue overnight — our strategic plan will guide the way.”
Leader #4: “Our priorities monumentally shifted in 2020, largely due to the pandemic, but also because of the spotlight that’s been shone on systemic racism.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work has always been a high priority for us as a school, but it has taken on next level importance today. We want to rethink everything we do as a school and leave no stone unturned in the way we dismantle deeply ingrained habits of mind.”
Leader #5: “Our old plan expired in 2020 but we simply weren’t able to put time against it this past year.
Now we are ☺”
If any of these reflections sound familiar, you may be ready to embark on a post-pandemic strategic planning initiative of your own.
Reach out to Mission Minded if you would like our help assessing whether you’re ready to take it on. And here’s a quick read on how we approach strategic planning at Mission Minded.