National Children's Alliance

SITUATION

National Children's Alliance is a national membership organization serving hundreds of local member programs.  It was growing rapidly, adding up to 50 new programs annually.  Weiss Consulting was asked to design and conduct a strategic planning process that would involve a broad spectrum of members to set organizational direction for the next three years.

RESULTS

We crafted an Appreciative Inquiry approach to collect hundreds of success stories from the field.  We used these stories to create a strong, three-year strategic plan grounded in people's real priorities.  This plan:

  • Supported ever more effective local service to victims.
  • Was vetted at the regional, state and local levels.
  • Created agreement on priorities that immediately increased alignment.
  • Poised the organization for greater recognition and influence in the national dialogue on child abuse.
  • Made the entire organization stronger.  At all levels, people had a framework for responding strategically to opportunities and challenges.

BACKGROUND

National Children's Alliance serves local child abuse programs generally known as Children's Advocacy Centers.  These centers bring together child advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors, child protective services and medical and mental health personnel, working within NCA practice standards. In 2003 the national organization needed an inclusive, high-engagement strategic planning process. It had to build on existing strengths, focus on leadership issues, and be flexible in light of funding uncertainties in the current economy. 

WEISS CONSULTING APPROACH

Working with the Board of Directors and the Executive Director, we developed an interview guide and trained the Board in Appreciative Inquiry. We conducted 41 interviews and with colleague Dr. Chris Kenty, we analyzed the data and culled themes.  At four regional summits we led interactive sessions to validate and prioritize the data.  The final report was delivered to the Board's Strategic Planning committee.

Our design created alignment and commitment among local, regional and national leaders. We ensured that strategic directions were based on past successes and reflected what people really want to develop as common priorities.  We created opportunities for hundreds of people to contribute directly to the planning process as interviewers and interviewees, as conference participants, and as state and local leaders at regional summits. At each turn we deepened commitment to the plan and strengthened connection among the players.