strategic planning

The DASCorps Survival Guide: Strategic Planning


At some point during your VISTA year you may asked to take part in or prepare a section for your organization’s strategic planning. You may even be asked to coordinate it as past VISTAs have been. Or your organization may not even have a plan past the next 3 months. This section is an introduction to the concepts and methods of Strategic Planning you may have to use during your service year.

Strategic Planning


This area is for any and all resources related to Strategic Planning.

Building the Project's Capacity


Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of research on capacity building: What is it? How can we evaluate it? Is there a “best practice” approach to capacity building? Is there a common conceptual framework for capacity building? What are the benefits of doing it? Who should do it? How do you promote capacity building in your organization? In what ways can CTC VISTA build its capacity?

Comment from Mike Moore on July 18, 2007 - 3:32pm

Haven't read your articles yet as I write this.

My thoughts:

One way to think of this, a way I think of it, is
building in efficiency. That takes getting to know
the "rhythm" so to speak of an organization - how,
why they do what they do.

Efficiency should be, my understanding, something
consistent with how an individual works, an organization's
process, workflow, philosophy, policies, an individuals as well as an organization's likes and dislikes. That takes some time to get to know.

And it's also, my understanding, giving them capacity
consistent with your given organizational mission and abilities.


Almost regardless of the organization you're involved
with, these underlying concerns may provide a springboard
to possible capacity building:

inventory tracking
software licensing
user literacy (training / tutorials)
development tools
online presence (RSS, website, infrastructure, etc)
developmental resources / contacts
organizational process improvements

Basically, as I see it, answering the fundamental question,
how can I within the scope of my responsibilities and
expertise help them do what they do better, more efficiently,
less effort, more bang. Sometimes it's readily apparent.
Something as simple as developing a checkout system
for a shared resource allowing them to do a better job
of tracking and scheduling. Other times it may not be
so readily apparent. You might have to ask questions,
see how they do what they do, get a feel for what their
daily routines and rhythms are.

Taking that time, increases the likelihood that whatever
suggestions, recommendations or changes you attempt to
implement will be consistent with rather than at odds with
their efforts, workflow and goals.

Put yourself in their shoes.

Most people don't appreciate having changes made in their
routine, by people they may not know or trust who may know little or nothing about them, what they do, why they do it.
What you propose is likely to be unhelpful, unused and resented
on that basis alone, nevermind the potential benefits.

All this is involved in leaving things better than you
found them. Capacity building is a collaborative effort
which involves the consent and cooperation of those you
hope to build the capacity of.

My best successes have been taking all that I've said here
into account. Sometimes people are perfectly content with
their system and process. It works for them. That's all
they need to know. And that perspective deserves respect.

Best of luck in your efforts.

Organize and Execute


Current Projects:


Project: Develop Strategic Plan for HOME, Inc.

Drivers: AJ McGuire, Alan Michel

Result: A strategic foundation that includes well-defined programming, meta-structuring of how all HOME, Inc. related programs converge, detailing of company roles, an updated organizational mission, etc.

Date of Completion: May 2007


Nonprofit Communications 2.0


Last week I attended NTEN's 2007 Nonprofit Technology Conference and sat in on a wonderful session entitled Nonprofit Communications 2.0: Seven Steps to Transform Your Organization. Led by Lauren-Glenn Davitian of the CCTV Center for Media and Democracy, the session provided a strong framework for nonprofits to better communicate in an increasingly networked society.

(crossposted from my personal blog)

I am also very lucky to serve with Lauren-Glenn on the editorial board of the Community Media Review.

The video itself is approximately 1 hour, 24 minutes long and worth every second, but I included my notes from the session below.

Leading by example...sort of


After a spent the week trying to catch up with all the VISTAs under my care, encouraging them all to blog and read the blogs, I realized I haven't really blogged myself.  What AM I working on?  Well the first three weeks as an official VISTA leader has been a lot about finding a balance between two new roles. 

Role 1 : VISTA Leader at CTC VISTA Project at UMass Boston

This role was a little easier to figure out, since I've got the Project pretty much figured out by now.  In fact, most of these first three weeks have been about helping the Project HQ staff get on the same page and think strategically about where the Project wants to go.  I hosted a little strategic planning retreat at my new apartment in Medford, where we compared assumptions, knowledge of the Project and whittled it all down into some concrete goals and actions for the Project.  Most of the fall will be consumed with populating the new CTC VISTA resource portal and putting the Digest together with Erin.