Tuesday, July 16

ANNA's Strategic Planning Journey

I recently had the great fortune to guide the amazingly courageous board of the American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA) through a strategic planning initiative.  Their previous plan, although many pages long, was unclear, unspecific, and uninspiring.  From the beginning, they were willing to challenge old assumptions and engage members in the conversation about where they want to go.  They examined trends in health care, association membership, and other areas that could impact their future.  And they rigorously asked themselves the same question that evidence-based nursing care is based on: how will we measure success?  Although they knew they would need a detailed road map to guide them to their desired future, ANNA’s board wanted a one page summary that members could understand and appreciate.  The highlights of our work (yes, in one page!) can be seen on their website at: http://www.annanurse.org/download/reference/association/strategicPlan.pdf

ANNA has found that their strategic plan has changed how they conduct board meetings, now focusing on their strategic priorities up front and as the bulk of the content of their meetings.  They continue to listen to members and adjust their path based on what members are telling them.  For instance, members have expressed how work and life pressures have constrained their ability to offer volunteer leadership, so the board is shortening meeting times as well as finding ways for members to engage through social media and in smaller chunks of time.  They are better able to spot and seize strategic opportunities that might have been missed without their focus on advancing their priorities.  And because they are working with agreed-upon ground rules on shared goals, they are being more efficient (and having more fun) than in the past.

I founded the Schiller Center for Connective Change more than 25 years ago so I could work with people like the members of the ANNA board who are doing meaningful work and want help being more effective and efficient in doing so.  The members of the ANNA board had some tough issues to face, yet their commitment to serving their members motivated them to address these issues head on, with stellar results.  The iterative process I use goes through four stages, which, like the seasons, are cyclical:  Define (spring), Design (summer), Align (autumn), and Refine (winter).  ANNA has been in the alignment/ implementation phase for several months now, so its leaders can tangibly measure the fruits of their strategic planning labors and celebrate the benefits being accrued.  From my point of view, they have become beloved family members with whom I have shared an intense, intimate, and rewarding journey. 

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