In October 2012, S & G began work with a planning team, brought together to hold a strategic planning summit for Bicycling in Greensboro. This blog chronicles the process used and the results already achieved from our work together.
The Strategic Planning Team, representing a diverse group of stakeholders serving Bicycling in Greensboro (BIG), met five times via teleconference to:
- Design an engaging strategic planning summit to bring together their community for feedback;
- Create a rough draft strategy to guide the organization for the next five years; and,
- Ensure all logistical needs and the best strategies were used to engage participants.
On January 26 and 27, 2013, BIG’s Board of Directors and various stakeholders came together to develop BIG’s 5 year strategic plan. Day 1 was about building a common framework; the 25 participants worked in small groups, heard wisdom from two diverse and energetic panels, shared stories and aspirations, and conducted a real-time diagnosis of the organization’s opportunities and challenges. They concluded day 1 by providing the leadership with key feedback to build a common strategic framework for BIG. Participants then returned on the second day to build an action plan to guide implementation of the strategic framework. Significant outcomes from the strategy summit, reported in the evaluations from participants, included:
- There is a community that will support our efforts, we need to effectively engage and educate that community.
- I saw BIG as an organization with a lot of possibility.
- The highly refined draft strategy document and goals set with action plans was an inspiring outcome for me.
Following the strategy summit, the strategy committee came together to finalize the strategy with feedback from participants, and the board approved the organization’s strategy in April 2013.
What’s happening since?
As a result of the strategic planning process, BIG and its stakeholders are guided by a strategy that includes efforts in advocacy, education and safety, and building a community to advance cycling in Greensboro. Funding and building capacity were also determined during the planning process as key to future success. In fact, a pair of anonymous donors were so confident of BIG’s future that they provided a large match-donation to help the organization continue its growth through the hiring of its first Executive Director. BIG also raised additional funds for the Changing Gears program through matching donations, allowing them to continue to engage new people in their advocacy work.
“After being an all volunteer organization for its first eight years, BIG is very excited to now have its first paid employee, its half-time executive director, Laura Peoples, who was hired on July 1, 2013. Without the Strategic Planning process and a solid strategy to guide us, we probably would not have secured the funding for an ED,” says long-time BIG member Jody Dietrich.
Laura’s first week in her new position included her helping lots with BIG’s annual fund raising Apple Pie Ride, her meeting with BIG members with grant writing expertise and her meeting with Board and Strategic Planning Team members to help her plan her first two months on the job. S & G Endeavors provides follow-up to the Strategic Planning process; Laura will soon utilize this service to help her write her first budget for BIG to ensure it supports the new strategic plan.
Of course, we’ll keep checking in with BIG for updates on their further success. We thank the strategy committee, panelists, participants, and even newly engaged stakeholders of BIG for a great and inspiring summit. Stay tuned to bikegso.org to see how BIG is making a positive difference for cycling in Greensboro, NC.
S & G Endeavors delivers strategic planning, meeting facilitation, and organizational development services to assist our clients in strengthening collaboration and overall success. As you start to think of 2014 and beyond, be sure to contact me and explore how thinking and acting strategically can grow your organization’s capacity and overall success.
In addition, S & G Endeavors would like to thank the Alliance for Biking & Walking for directly creating the opportunity for us to help BIG. As this project was spawned during my tenure at the Alliance, I wanted to again give my thanks and congratulations to this organization which has made a commitment to growing professional bicycling and walking advocacy throughout North America. We look forward to continuing work with the Alliance on future projects.