As 2021 began, Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery was ready to revisit the direction and focus of its work through a strategic planning process. Like many organizations, the Nursery made major changes to respond to the pandemic and was evolving to find new ways to center equity in its work. The Nursery turned to IG as a partner because we’ve built a strong baseline of trust through our long working relationship.

The Nursery had two key priorities going into the process:

  • Their team—a mix of staff and Board members—hoped to have space to lay out a broader vision for the organization beyond reacting to crises.
  • Given the broader ongoing changes our communities are experiencing, the Nursery needed to set a clear direction that wouldn’t constrain opportunities for additional adaptation.

We decided to create a strategic framework with the Nursery. A strategic framework differs from a strategic plan in these ways:

A table that describes the differences between a strategic framework and strategic plan. The framework: explores emerging factors and their meaning, sets the organization in a powerful direction, is a decision-making tool, and measures success by progress and evolution over time. A strategic plan focused on strengths and weaknesses, sets goals for the org., Acts as an action plan, and measures success by achieving goals.

We developed the strategic framework through a series of semi-structured workshops, pausing at a few key points for important conversations. One particularly vital part of the work was to make space for people to process how they were doing as our community continues to experience racialized trauma.

The strategic framework is helping to guide staff as they continue to evolve the Nursery’s structures and systems. It also acts as a longer-term focal point than the immediate challenges and opportunities the Nursery is facing. It allows the Nursery to respond to the changing environment in ways that keep moving toward the following shared directions:

  • Nurturing a safe and inclusive culture that strengthens staff engagement​
  • Strengthening the Nursery’s work through a commitment to research and best practices to achieve the greatest impact for the organization’s families, field, and community ​
  • Delivering services in innovative, effective, and family-driven ways​
  • Leveraging the Nursery's unique assets and strengths to develop partnerships that increase community impact​

As Mary Pat Lee, the Nursery’s Executive Director, shares:

"Our strategic framework provides clear guidance for our staff and Board about the organization's direction. It allows us to set specific goals and work plans, but also gives us the chance to assess and incorporate new and unforeseen opportunities. We're eager to move forward using the framework and excited about the work we'll accomplish."

The strategic framework has been useful for helping Board and staff each fill important roles, too. The Board is focusing on governance and visioning, while staff are focused on implementation, operations, and achieving intermediate successes.