Encouraging Shared Leadership through Planning

Mike Stewart - July 2012
Mike Stewart, Executive Director of Boyer’s Children’s Clinic, chose to work with Amanda recently to develop a new strategic plan. ‘We were operating from a strategic plan adopted in 2008,’ Mike reflected. ‘Its original shelf life was three years; it had run its course and exceeded it in some ways.’

In his third year as Executive Director, this was Mike’s first strategic planning process with his board and senior staff. Mike knew both groups had an incredible wealth of knowledge, and his first goal was to bring out that expertise and utilize it for shared decision making. He wanted to move the team from the centralized leadership style with which they had been familiar, to a more collaborative style that better matched his leadership view for Boyer.

Mike’s second goal was to set everyone up for success. He wanted a consultant who could guide the strategic planning process as well as encourage leadership and engagement from his team. After reaching out to partner organizations for referrals and asking for a few proposals, Amanda came out on top.

Amanda had the right temperament for our group. She gave the staff appropriate kicks out of their ruts, she had the respect of the board, and she was able to reference other organizations, which helped us diversify our thinking.

Mike’s third goal was to create a planning process that both board and senior staff could buy in to. Amanda put the first planning task – information gathering – in the hands of Mike’s competent senior staff. ‘She pretty much convinced us that we were the information experts and the board’s decisions would only be as good as the information we provided to them,’ noted Mike.

Amanda worked with the leadership team to determine what kind of information the board needed to provide them with an in‐depth snapshot of Boyer’s major successes and challenges. This included a financial trends analysis, clinical and client trends, as well as an assessment of competitors and allies. The task was eye‐opening for Mike and his team. While the staff had access to much of the information they needed, not all of it was easy
to utilize.

As a result of working with Amanda, we changed the way we look at the information we need to monitor our performance. And we noticed some major holes in the way we were operating, which came to light as a result of the information‐gathering Amanda encouraged us to do.

As a preamble to the planning retreat, the senior staff presented the strategic information in focused segments over several board meetings. The board was able to digest a full picture of Boyer, including its history and current challenges. The transparency produced lively discussion about the implications and lessons learned.

As a wrap up to the planning process, Amanda facilitated a half‐day strategic planning retreat. ‘The plan almost wrote itself that day,’ Mike remembers. ‘We have a Vision Map with the outcomes we want to achieve. We have one‐page plan with Five Bold Action Steps that guide us. It’s easy to understand and gives staff operational flexibility from year to year.’

With Amanda facilitating the process, there was both efficiency and progress. Amanda did a good job working with different board and staff personalities. She was valuable as third party giving information to the board and also efficient with time and followed the clock, which was important for us.’ Today, Boyer is implementing its strategic goals and feeling successful with the process. Having participated fully in strategic planning, Boyer’s leadership is continuing to move forward, working together.

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