REINFORCING THE FOUNDATION FOR FUTURE GROWTH
Sojourner Truth House
Nearing the end of an aggressive three-year strategic plan, Sojourner Truth House was ready to step back, take inventory of where they were, and determine their next steps, and they engaged Strategic Innovation to facilitate that process. The organization was in the final stages of completing one of their most aggressive projects to date, a limited partner venture to convert unused property adjacent to their existing facility into a 40 unit housing complex and resource for the homeless. Over that same three years, they had also continued to grow their traditional day services for homeless women and children, expanding the number of clients served and even adding food pantry and limited medical services for men.
The planning project began with one-on-one interviews with board members and community partners to identify perceptions, challenges, and needs. The results of those interviews were shared to inform the output of a facilitated Board mapping session to identify current challenges and opportunities. Similar mapping sessions were conducted with other key stakeholders, including staff, volunteers, and clients. Patterns emerged in four areas, pointing to the need for a focus on the basics, the people, processes, programs, and facilities. Each of those were explored by stakeholder groups and summarized in maps like the ones below:
After approximately ten weeks of information gathering and problem identification, the Board and Leadership team met for a two-day, offsite, strategic planning session. The agenda for day one included time to review the information gathered, create a more defined definition of each problem/opportunity area and conduct a preliminary problem solving session using a process that allowed for open-ended thinking and encouraged innovation. On day two, groups developed more detailed plans, with preliminary steps and suggested ways to measure progress based on their vision of what success would look like. A Board member and Leader were assigned to each of the four large goals and were asked to put more details around the projects in their areas.
Following the offsite, the Board member and Leader assigned to each of the four areas continued to meet to plan , and then we held a final full session to prioritize and integrate the project plans. Ultimately, they had a shared vision of their big picture goals and a detailed project plan of the day-to-day steps and individual responsibilities.
Sojourner is now in the process of implementing the plan. The process helped them realize that the aggressive demands of the last three years had caused them to defer some basic facility, program, and people issues that are a necessary foundation for living out their mission and continuing to grow.