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We ended a staff meeting early this week with collectively speaking the phrase, “focus, team work, flawless execution – to make our community great.” This embodies what I’ve seen from the staff at Triangle Community Foundation so far and is their continued focus as they grow and change. As I had mentioned in a previous post, Triangle Community Foundation is currently undergoing a strategic planning process. While this is a concept I have spent a lot of time learning about in my classes, it’s been a completely different experience to watch the process play out in real time. And it really is a process. While the eventual goal is to create a comprehensive plan to guide the organization for the next 3-5 years, getting there is time consuming and involves hours and hours of conversations.

While I will not go into the details of the strategic plan, as most things are still being discussed and decided on, I do want to talk about what I’ve seen from the process thus far. For months the staff has been trying to finalize what they want to make their new mission, vision and values. These three components are the guiding force of any nonprofit, and therefore require this level of attention to detail. From what I’ve gleaned from staff meetings so far, this is an area they did not dedicate quite as much attention to in past strategic plans, as they were eager to get right to goals and strategies. However, they are deliberately taking the time to focus on the “why” this time through.

Watching this process reminds me a lot of my first semester in the MPA program. Much of my cohort’s time was spent building our foundational knowledge in the theory of public administration and not getting to do much application. The work felt somewhat detached from what we all wanted to do, and we got frustrated at points because we were eager to take action like the change agents we all are. However, looking back it is clear that the time spent learning the theory and building that foundation helped us in the long run. Much of that restless anticipation I felt to get to the action is reflected in my colleagues at the Foundation during this strategic planning process. While they believe this work is necessary, it is frustrating when they are so excited to get to the end product. As the President, Lori, said during our staff meeting this week, “This is an evolution.” Not all change is a revolution – some changes need to unfold deliberately and cautiously to ensure they are right, strong, and sustainable.

Regardless of how long it takes them, it is pretty clear to me that Triangle Community Foundation is going to be emerging from this strategic process with a stronger mission, vision, and values to lead them in their work. My fellow Fellow, Ebony’s, assignments at the Foundation have brought her much closer to the strategic planning process, so look out for a follow up post this summer where I can hopefully get some further insights from her!

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