Strategic planning workshop for Sue Merchant Blue Link Consulting
What is AYME? Association of Young people with ME • A charity which supports young people • (up to 26 yrs) who have • Myalgic Encephalopathy • (Chronic fatigue syndrome)
What does AYME do? • Provides telephone and on-line support to sufferers/families • Provides help booklets on the condition • Produces a newsletter • Raises awareness of the condition nationally • Helps educate professionals on the condition • Employs sufferers as volunteers • ……and of course raises funds for these purposes!
THE TASK Facilitate a half day workshop of trustees and CEO to help produce a new strategic plan • Warning bells – Mission Impossible? • Limited time with client • Workshop date perilously close • Overworked CEO – task prioritisation clearly needed • AGM preceding workshop so full half day unlikely
Sue’s Initial plan • constructed in draft (before met the client) then • checked by a helpful colleague • discussed with the Chair and Vice Chair Standard process: Where do we want to get to? B Where are we now? A What do we need to do to get from A to B? How do we do that? Prioritise actions
Changes to plan • Became clear that only half a dozen trustees could attend the meeting • Decided to issue questionnaire to those who couldn’t • Client suggested we sent this also to senior staff and volunteers • Questionnaire not anonymous but confidentiality promised • Asked for responses within about 1 week
Questions asked: • Please describe your specific role in the org • Which services do you feel AYME is doing really well? • Which need some improvement ? • Are there any services you feel AYME should be offering but is not? • Regarding the services which you feel are not doing very well, do • you have any suggestions for improvement or for doing even better • the things that AYME already does well? • What things would prevent AYME from making these improvements?
Outcome of questionnaire • Great return rate (1 missing of 16 possibles) • There were over 80 different detailed suggestions for areas and methods of improvement and most were much too lengthy to put on a post it and feed into the discussions. • And in any case too many to discuss as originally planned in the time available • Use of the word ‘services’ interpreted differently • (client facing and support functions) • What did I do? • Came out in a cold sweat! • Then re-jigged the process at the 11th hour
Preparation for revised workshop • Sorted all the ideas for improvement into groups and • typed up under these headings for circulation at meeting: • Increase staff/volunteer capacity • Enhance member services • Improve awareness of ME and AYME • Increase number of members • Increase income • Improve communication internally • All ideas were cross referred back to the original responses in case queries • about the detail of specific ideas arose at the workshop.
Revised workshop process • Announce good findings • Two groups- each discuss half of the ideas, see if anything to add, annotate quickly with symbols: smiley faces, £ ,clouds and X (no go). • =quick and easy=well worth more thought£=good but too dear now • sort ideas into symbol charts and present back to other group • Fast Pestel analysis by whole group added to flipcharts • Prioritise actions –green dots on each of the three types of chart • Agree action plan for next steps • Trustees to look later at budget and resources to adjust list.
Quick sketch of Causal Map of AYME priorities showing required necessary key improvements (green) to help discussion later Top level aims (red) Enhance member services Help more ME sufferers Increase members & supporters Support vols/staff better Improve internal communication Explore new structures and ways of working Increase vol/staff capacity to undertake current/new functions Increase awareness of AYME and ME Increase funding Logic of diagram: From A to B means need to do A to achieve B
Lessons • Things to do better! • Fight for more time for analysis and discussion with • the client before the workshop (not possible here as fixed date) • Find out if client wants to include client services and support ones • Add to list of contingencies how to deal with a workshop member • participating via a phone line from Scotland! • Practice more with camera in advance (for benefit of the client) • Use again • Linking summary comments to specific q’aires by code • Q’aires to stakeholders if they can’t attend: gave a really good picture • of the organisation quite quickly and staff appreciated being asked. • Symbols made sorting easy and was enjoyed
And what happened? Client found the analysis useful and used it to help produce their revised strategy And I went away to reflect on how to do better next time! Contact: AYME Vice Chair of Trustees :Vanessa Freeman Gwynn firstname.lastname@example.org ORS volunteer: email@example.com
Thank you!Questions/Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org Blue Link Consulting