How to kick perfect goals while the posts are moving

Or creating a clear and effective Strategic Plan

The Consumer Policy and Research Centre (CPRC) recently achieved the strategic equivalent of the triple somersault, half twist in a pike position off the 10 metre diving board with a 9.0 difficulty rating; it found clarity and purpose in a new strategic direction, expanded the trust and support of its main funder, and continued to kick perfect goals while the posts were moving. Sorry, mixing my sports metaphors there.

Oh, and did I mention that they were also recruiting for a new CEO throughout the strategic planning process? So CPRC had the additional challenge of creating a Strategic Plan that should provide enough direction to keep the organisation moving and enough certainty to guarantee funding. And the plan should also allow any new visionary CEO to take ownership of the plan and make key decisions or reasonable changes. That has just increased the strategic difficulty rating to a 9.9. So how did they do it?

A key decision that led to their success was to develop a Strategic Plan that spanned three years, but included a review after the first year. This would allow the new CEO to make reasonable changes and learn from the organisation’s experiences.

CPRC is a Victorian Government funded broad-based research centre that helps to drive policy development and better protect consumers. Until recently, the CPRC was known as the Consumer Utility Advocacy Centre (CUAC). Apart from a name change, the recent transformation also expanded the organisation’s purpose and scope of activity from being an advocacy body to take on a research role and the responsibility to deal with broader ranging consumer issues across all sectors.

The Board and staff went through a process with Midnightsky that guided the organisation to a confident, shared understanding and clarity that could be communicated with key funders, new leadership and all staff.

Acting CEO, Petrina says that the resulting Strategic Plan, “gave us the basis to show the government where we were going, which aligned with what they were thinking too.”

Midnightsky helped the organisation navigate the significant change by asking it to reconsider some fundamental strategic questions: what is its purpose, what is it going to do to achieve that purpose, how is it going to behave along the way, and how will it know when its achieved success?

In other words, the organisation re-articulated its Vision, Role, Values and Goals. These are key aspects required to inspire and focus any organisation and its stakeholders, including staff and funders.

Since the development of the Strategic Plan, the new CEO, Lauren Solomon, has built the research agenda for the organisation. This research agenda has become part of the whole Strategic Plan and contributes to the organisation’s vision.

The clear and direct language of the new Strategic Plan continues to emerge in reports and other communication tools as the organisation’s strategy is embodied by the CPRC team and implemented through their activities.

by Cressida Bradley

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