Aligning on a Strategy and Action Plan
With Tunnel Light, Inc / 2 months
When there’s an urgent challenge, and it hits close to home, it’s easy to motivate people to come together to address it. The difficulty is in aligning the whole group on the action steps to make the vision a reality, while keeping focus on the people who will be directly impacted by your work. Tunnel Light, Inc. was in just that situation: seeking to impact the urgent challenge of mental health in the Black community, and considering the many possible directions and opportunities where the organization could invest their energy.
Tunnel Light, Inc. was founded by Sidney C. Stuckey in the wake of his brother’s suicide, and he was able to recruit a talented, willing board to join him — including old friends, colleagues, and experts. As a group of volunteers, the board had a lot of ideas, but not always enough capacity to move them forward.
Through a collaborative and facilitated process, Public Design Bureau supported Tunnel Light to find alignment on the immediate next steps to meet their short-term goals and move toward their long-term vision. In a series of virtual sessions, Public Design Bureau guided the board to align on a set of program and organizational infrastructure priorities, and create immediate action steps for the next 6 months, putting them on a path towards long-term action.
Process + Outputs
- One-on-one conversations: Learning the background and motivations of each person involved in a group takes time. Yet understanding these perspectives is critical to establishing a foundation for a collaboration. Public Design Bureau conducted structured one-on-one conversations with each board member to learn about their skills, interests, challenges, priorities, and ideas. The (anonymized) perspectives from each board member were synthesized into the starting materials for the facilitated workshops.
- Facilitated workshops: Using the learnings from the one-on-one conversations, the board worked through a series of collaborative, interactive virtual workshops. Together, we clarified and added detail about the goals of the organization, as well as prioritized key programs, communication strategies, and infrastructure that the organization needed to move forward. In two action workshops, Public Design Bureau drew out the expertise and commitment of the board to make specific plans on how to implement these prioritized areas in the near term.
- Detailed action plan: The input from board members fed into a detailed, yet flexible, action plan for their goals in the next 6 months. Taking a prototyping mindset, the plans for several priority areas incorporate cycles of testing and revision – valuing quick tangible action while also building in the expectation and time for reflection and adjustment. Overall, the action plan provides a framework to hold board members accountable for their commitments and on track as a group. Group discussion about the action plan deepened relationships and prompted important conversations about the reality of different board member’s ideas for implementation, expectations, and current capacity.