Building Pathways to Independence and Well-Being
Easterseals Arkansas (ESA) is a nonprofit organization that builds pathways to independence and well-being for people with developmental disabilities, autism, and dual diagnosis. With a focus on therapy, education, employment, and community housing, ESA aims to empower all people with disabilities to live, learn, work, and play in their communities. We partnered with ESA to develop and implement an agile strategic plan that would guide them through a global pandemic and emerge stronger than before. Centering the voice and vision of their stakeholder community, we facilitated an organizational discovery that landed a set of 5-year Strategic Objectives and Key Results. The strategic OKRs would serve as true north for the Executive Team and Board as we supported their team navigate the challenges of COVID-19 while implementing the EOS organizational operating system to execute their plan. Now, ESA is equipped with the measurable definition of success and the operational rhythms required to make the execution of their vision automatic.
- Organizational Agility
- Strategic Objectives and Key Results
- Progress Monitoring with Scorecards
- Quarterly Reviews and Retrospectives
Strategic Planning Begins with an Engaging Discovery
When it comes to planning, the desire for a collaborative and inclusive process has in many ways become the standard and yet we see these types of engagements oftentimes lacking purpose and authenticity. Effective collaboration begins with a belief in the unique value of every stakeholder and continues by creating a safe space where people are truly given a chance to share their voice. Our discovery prioritized building trust with the entire stakeholder community and opened the door for people to weigh in on the assets of the community and the opportunities ahead of them. It was through this intentional, trust-building phase of the journey that we were able to gather the meaningful input required to define a true north that was representative of the collective vision of the Easterseals Arkansas community.
Gaining Traction with an Organizational Operating System
Realizing the vision would mean disciplined execution across the entire organization. To systematize their approach, we trained their team on an organizational operating system that would train and equip them to make continuous progress towards their larger goals. At its core, the operating system equips teams with the organizational rhythms needed to make their execution more automatic. This was particularly helpful for ESA as the implementation began during a global pandemic when conditions and resources were changing every day. By taking a people-centered, systematic approach to execution we gave their vision the teeth it needed to gain traction and accelerate forward.
Painting a Picture of Success with Objectives and Key Results
Like many nonprofits, knowing what it would mean to have a successful year can be incredibly difficult to define. At ESA this was no different. With hundreds of direct service providers implementing over a dozen different programs, the ability to distill the organization’s long-term vision for success was a challenging endeavor. Using the Objective and Key Result framework, we helped Ron and his team set direction for their entire organization in a way that was meaningful and measurable. With a clear picture of what success would look like, we empowered every team within the organization to reverse engineer their operating plans with this shared vision in mind.
Strategic Integration requires Agility
For the ESA Executive team, the thought of achieving the 5-year Strategic Objectives and Key Results felt like running a marathon. To make their OKRs more actionable and to center progress over perfection, we helped them implement a series of focused and timebound sprints in which the team identified the most important things to achieve in the next 90 days and then created a lean, accountable plan for hitting those targets. This prioritization process enabled the type of consistent, OKR-aligned action needed from every member of the team and placed the organization on a path to achieving their end results.
“I am a huge fan of Mission Matters Group (MMG) and highly recommend them to all nonprofit decision makers who need a true partner to help navigate the creation of a compelling vision and strategic plan, the integration and deployment of key technology initiatives, or the installation of a management operating system to execute on strategy.”
Ron Ekstrand, CEO at Easter Seals of Arkansas