Strategic Learning

We completed the first “deep dive” and have come up with a strategy to make us relevant to girls. For those of you unfamiliar with the process, Strategic Learning was launched for our Council in January. We’ve used GSUSA’s Strategic Learning process as the core process within the system for creating and implementing strategy.

Strategic Learning - Willie Pietersen webThis process was developed by Willie Pietersen, professor of Practice Management at Columbia Business School, and is used in a variety of corporations and nonprofit contexts. The overarching goal of the new strategy process is to enhance leadership effectiveness throughout the Movement. It thus plays a central role in realizing the Girl Scouts’ vision to become the premier leadership organization for girls. Over the past six months, Strategic Learning has elevated and enriched the strategic thinking of Girl Scout executives, board members and staff in a manner that had us ask new questions, have new conversations, infuse new thinking, and we hope will accelerate the Girl Scouts’ journey from “good to great.”

It was truly a very simple process. The board of directors identified four key focus areas. Then, a Core Strategy Team made of up staff, board members and volunteers had a retreat to learn about the process and begin several situation analyses. This portion of the process required much research via surveys, focus groups, individual interviews and gathering of other feedback. We’re very thankful for those of you who participated in our research and we want you to know that we have heard you. Your feedback will help us move the Council forward.

After the research was complete, the Core Strategy Team met again to discuss findings of the situation analyses and identified key priorities. Then, Gap Teams made up of staff members met to determine how GSNCA would close the gaps between where we are and where we want to be as a Council. Although we are nearing the end of this portion of the process, the entire Strategic Learning process is ongoing, and will be revisited every year, with a deep look similar to the initial intensive process described about every three years.

Our key priorities for this strategic learning cycle will focus on Financial Stability, Communications, Programs and Volunteerism.

Our analyses showed that we needed to diversify funding and revenue, we need to assess property usage and needs, and we need to do a better job of keeping track of stakeholders. Our research on programs had the same conclusion that GSUSA’s research did – our programs need to be fun, mission-focused and help girls get an experience that they can’t get anywhere else to keep them interested. We found that we need to focus on finding and training the right volunteers for the right jobs, as well as better utilizing technology for training and for Council communications. Our research also indicated that we need to look at our structure to make sure we can meet your needs most effectively.

We also identified how we will compete and win over our competition. To compete with other activities, GSNCA will focus on all girls K-5 for recruitment and retention; and will focus on retaining girls in 6th-12th grades by listening and responding to the voice of girls.

In order to win over the competition, we will strive to be the best at providing a valuable leadership experience for girls that is fun and relevant in a safe environment.

Our Gap Teams developed Gap Statements pertaining to each of our key priorities and developed statements that explained where we are now, where we want to be and identified obstacles we face in this particular gap.  We also developed a plan to align our business system and our culture to match our strategy.  And plan to overcome resistance within our organization in order to drive the momentum.  We will give everyone a clear understanding of expectations and consequences and we will determine ways to celebrate short-term successes and determine recognitions for those whose examples model these efforts.

We are confident this process will help us be girl-centered in all we do, thus making the organization move with one goal and customer in mind: girls.

Council Strategy 2010-2013

(Pictured above: Willie Pietersen, Trish Coghlan (GSNCA CEO) and Chris Ross (GSNCA Board President)

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