Use Strategic Planning to Create Engagement and Purpose- The Agile Canvas

People participate in what they help to create.

If you want employees, board members, or volunteers to work with purpose, involve them in the strategic planning process.  The people involved in the organization on a daily basis have in-depth perspective on customer needs, product design, industry trends,  operations, etc. With this insight, they can dream together and discuss what is possible in the future. 

We use the Agile Canvas to facilitate strategic planning with businesses and nonprofits. The process can scale to any level of planning (or collaboration as we like to consider it). We encourage organizations to involve as many people as possible in facilitated sessions designed to capture possibility statements, or Intentions. We go out a generation, and then focus on Intentions that can be achieved in 2 quarters.

Next, the group writes Questions. These are the things that need to be researched and decided. This allows participants to challenge the Intentions (How will we get the resources for this?) and ensure we don't get stuck on certain ideas. If there is uncertainty, we write it down as a question and move on. 

There is a lot of learning and engagement when we bring diverse groups of participants together. Different perspectives are shared, ideas are co-developed, and excitement builds as everyone re-connects with the organization's mission. 

What is important is to take this energy and create momentum toward the plan's Intentions. We do this with the third element of the Agile Canvas, which is Sprints. These are 2 week cycles of work that are planned for the first 2 quarters of the plan. When the core team is realistic about what the staff can actually take on, it makes it much easier to move from planning to execution. With Sprints everyone can see progress toward the Intentions.

No longer will a plan sit on the shelf and collect dust, because people will participate in what they help create. 



Traditional and Agile Strategic Planning

It's early in 2015, and many organizations are in the process of strategic planning. Some are working on building top-down, 3-5 year plans that attempt to predict the future. Others are searching for new approaches that help the organization explore possibilities while increasing the involvement and engagement of their workforce.

In a recent blog post, "Traditional and Agile Strategic Planning Contrasts"writer/facilitator Jack Ricchiuto and I have listed some of the strategic planning approaches and assumptions that used to work for many organizations, but more frequently are failing to offer the vision, insight, and engagement needed to succeed. Those approaches include:

  • People can and will support what they don't help create
  • People base their passion on the vision of others rather than their own
  • High performance means holding people accountable to the plan
  • People do their best when others are held responsible for them
  • Strategy and structure are more important than culture
  • Organizations grow most In areas of their weaknesses and threats
  • Success is avoidance of risk, failure and blame
  • Prediction is the key to effective planning
  • Some of us can be smarter than all of us
  • Decision makers can make accurate assessments of capacity to achieve strategic priorites
  • Having more questions than answers is a sign of weakness
  • Failing strategies are calls for more resources

Many organizations are realizing a new approach is needed. We have been working with organizations to deploy a more modern collaboration model to guide their strategic planning processes. The model we used is called Agile Canvas Strategic Doing 365. It keeps groups continuously inspired, realistic and productive in the Strategic Planning process. The process is easy to learn and engages any kind of people, personalities and perspectives. It makes being strategic an ongoing practice rather than reactive or periodic event. Learn more about the Agile Canvas here.

This is new.. I am officially my own brand

Welcome to! 

It's a little surreal for me to have a website that sells me, and my capabilities. For so long, I have worked for large corporations, been a part of a team to start a nonprofit, and also have launched a technology startup. It's always been about the team, the organization.  So, why me, and why now? 

I have a passion for rolling up my sleeves and working with people, teams, and leaders by building upon their sense of purpose to design meaningful solutions that make positive change. This change could be 1) employees improving their work by developing new skills and knowledge , 2) organizations growing faster and smarter by engaging everyone in innovation, or 3) teams collaborating in more efficient ways to create new possibilities. 

This website explains what I do, and how I do it . You'll find information about my solutions and my strategic partners, who are industry thought leaders, authors, and all around great people. 

If you decide to click around, you may ask, "What's with the water/fish theme?" The fish are koi. In Japanese culture, they can symbolize transformation, success, prosperity, and strong relationships. Plus, they swim together in schools (learning). Water keeps everything in motion, just like the environments where we work and live. In this world of constant motion, we have to be able to transform and grow. I have always been drawn to these concepts, and since this is my page, I can call the shots here. 

So, again, welcome! Stay tuned to this page for more thoughts, discussions, and news. 

Happy Learning!