At the end of the day, our clients’ conference room was lined with flip chart paper, sticky notes, and dry erase boards, all marked with words and phrases written in colorful markers. Paper, pens, and index cards were strewn about the tables. It was, in a word, messy. And it was quiet. Until, finally, the head of the organization slapped her hand on the table, and said, “Well, I was just going to shut the door of my office and write the strategic plan myself. But this was so much better…and more fun!”
Many people think of strategic planning as a dry, methodical endeavor. At Emerging Perspectives, we approach planning as a creative and collaborative process that serves as a bridge from the current experience to a future that can be envisioned but isn’t yet realized. We work with clients to illuminate the opportunities and challenges that can be foreseen, to create a plan that will guide them into the future, and to cultivate a sense of collaboration and community among stakeholders.
We believe that it’s key is to include the diverse perspectives of all stakeholders – staff, board members, partners and clients – to create a plan that addresses the hopes and concerns of everyone in the system, including those who fund and implement programs and those the program is designed to serve.
Our work is inspired by complexity science, systems thinking, and neuroscience, using an approach that is emergent and collaborative. Specifically, we seek to engage our clients’ capacities for openness, curiosity, imagination, focus and reflection as essential tools for collaboration, sense-making, and planning. Used early in the planning process, openness, curiosity and imagination encourage broad reflection and creative idea generation while minimizing self-limiting thoughts and ideas. Once we have as many ideas as possible on the table, we work with the planning group to begin to narrow the focus and target salient areas and ideas to move forward.