Jun 25, 2010

EPIP Strategic Planning Retreat: recap and reflections

I (Sarah!) recently participated in the EPIP Strategic Planning Retreat at the Idealist.org offices in NYC a few weeks ago, which brought the EPIP Board of Advisors together with staff and other chapter leaders for two full days of intense processing and planning. Here are some of my reflections and takeaways that I posted on my personal blog... check it out!
As a relatively action-oriented person, I was dismayed when we were immediately informed that "strategic planning only begets more planning"- and that we were not going to come up with any answers. I prefer answers, tasks and action and don’t necessarily love process, so it was going to be tough. We were asked to embrace and lean into the discomfort that goes along with addressing the issues and challenges that we face as an organization, rather than shy away from it- which I’d already planned to do because if there is one thing I’ve learned in the last five years, there’s absolutely no sense in waiting around for people to arrive at the right decision- especially if they’re making a series of wrong ones along the way...

In the end, I really appreciated the process we went through and although it was really tough sometimes and I hated hated hated some of the exercises that we had to slog through, I was kind of astounded and proud of our work when we arrived at the end of the long two days. We had worked from the abstract (thinking about factors that are working for and against us in the sector and how they affect the three parts of our mission) to addressing the challenges of having a staff of three (or two, in a month) and factored in our communications, board leadership and development, and the entire structure of the organization- all through of series of interesting exercises that kept us moving and engaged for the duration of the time.
We were joined by a lunchtime panel of EPIP "alumni", including:
  • Molly Schultz Hafid, Founding Steering Committee Member- EPIP NYC, Two-Term Alumnae of the EPIP Board of Advisors, and Program Officer at the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock
  • Sandra Balaban, Founding Alumnae- EPIP Board of Advisors, Alumnae, EPIP Organizing Committee, and now with the New York City Board of Education
  • Toya Willford, Former Chair- EPIP NYC and Program Director at the Brooklyn Community Foundation
  • Chad Jones, Alumnus, EPIP NYC Steering Committee (and former Seattle EPIP member)
I Tweeted my way through this panel of speakers, so make sure you're following @EPIPSeattle on Twitter for a live recap of their discussion.

In conclusion, it was a really great trip to the East Coast and I look forward to seeing what kind of recommendations come out of it. I really enjoyed working with our facilitator, Gita Gulati-Partee, who has been working with EPIP for several months conducting stakeholder interviews with the Board of Advisors, staff, chapter leaders, members and alumni. Check out OpenSource Leadership Strategies for more about their services!

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