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  • Melinda Steffy

Strategic Planning Stage 1: Where are we?

We structure our strategic planning process around three stages: Landscape, North Star, and Road Map. On our journey together, we articulate where you are now, where you want to go, and what steps will help you get there. We help your board and staff move forward with shared vision and intentionality.


Stage 1: Landscape

To know where to go, we have to understand where you are now.


Stage 1 is all about understanding your organization. And because organizations are made up of people, this stage primarily involves listening to and learning from your stakeholders.


We define “stakeholders” broadly: participants, partners, artists, educators, community members, volunteers, donors, board members, staff, and more. Anchored by antiracism and accessibility, we adhere to the principle of “nothing about us without us,” and seek to ensure that those affected by decisions are involved in the decision-making.


To gather a variety of perspectives and data points, we conduct a mix of focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and a survey. We listen for challenge areas, opportunities, and broader trends, and begin to shape a sense of strategic priorities. We approach these conversations with a priority on trust-building and inclusion, aiming to strengthen relationships with your organization.


Whether we’re talking to people in person or via Zoom, we bring abundant care and creativity to our facilitation, to help participants feel connected and refreshed. We create space for multiple communication preferences and learning styles, ensuring that all participants may fully engage. Our box of tools includes breathwork, personal reflection, written responses, open conversations, visualization tools, and interactive activities.


Behind-the-scenes, we’ll also review your prior strategic plan and other relevant materials such as annual reports, business model, budget, marketing materials, policies, website, etc. to give us the fullest picture possible.


Once we have a detailed snapshot, we synthesize the stakeholder feedback into a Findings Report with key takeaways and recommendations. The things we learn inform the rest of the strategic planning process, and provide a solid foundation for board and staff to determine “Where should we go?" during Stage 2: The North Star.


“Move at the speed of trust ... build the resilience by building the relationships.” —adrienne maree brown, Emergent Strategy

Photo of a landscape with mountains, intersecting rivers, and a village of colorful buildings nestled along the edges.
To know where to go, we have to understand where you are now.

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