by Danielle Rocheleau
It’s that time again! We are launching a new strategic planning process to guide Laridae from 2023 and beyond. Founded in January, 2012, this year Laridae celebrates its 10th year of business. Having an active strategic plan is our way of ensuring our business remains healthy and growing for another 10+ years.
We launched our last three-year plan just weeks before the pandemic hit in 2020. Like many of our clients, while we were navigating the “pivots” amidst a new way of doing and delivering client work, we were also trying to remain focused on our long-term strategy.
How did we do?
In some cases, the pivots won the battle for our energy: It felt like we were treading water and couldn’t see the horizon. I could tell that sometimes staff felt lost or like we lacked direction because change was happening faster than we could adapt to it. I think the whole world felt this way!
In other cases, we remained right on track: Our team seemed optimistic and excited about the path ahead. There was focus, we were all engaged, and ultimately felt like we were pulling in the same direction.
At all times, the strategy was there to remind us that the ground beneath our organization was solid enough to build on.
The theme (and outcome) of our strategy contained three operational tenets:
- Be a strong and stable company
- Create and preserve a valued workplace culture
- Provide an excellent client experience
Not everything went as planned – and that doesn’t mean we failed, but rather that we adapted to circumstance. Of all the things I’m most proud of given the past few years, it’s been the resilience shown by the Laridae team, clients and stakeholders as we explored the new normal.
Our goal to diversify our offerings resulted in a whopping 50-50 shift in revenue balance between our foundational consulting service and our new training service areas within just two years! As it turned out, the pandemic provided an excellent environment in which virtual learning programs could flourish – and so our Management Training and Leadership Development programs have taken root and grown considerably. Even our experiment with The Pier, an online community of practice that ran for a portion of 2021, took an unexpected but fortuitous turn. While we did not achieve the membership base we intended, we did build a community of expert partners who now offer regular consultation and training to our clients through our new Community Learning program. Pivot!
In early 2020, at the point that the pandemic ‘closed the world’, we leaned hard on our culture to achieve unanimous agreement on reducing salaries — and to undertake a 4-day work week trial. Not knowing what might be in store, our aim was to avoid layoffs. Incredibly, we then managed to restore previous salaries a full five months sooner than expected, grew total compensation benefits and added new team members as business resumed. We also moved through a leadership succession that, while expected, was delayed and impacted by the circumstances experienced by the pandemic.
I will share much more detail in coming months as we unpack our experiences in preparation for future planning.
What’s the next step?
At this point in time, starting our strategic planning process feels like the right next thing to do. The storm has calmed, we’ve navigated what I hope was the worst of it, and it’s time to reenergize our vision.
We are preparing to follow our own best advice. In fact, we intend to document our progress as a case study on Laridae’s Strategic Planning consultation service.
As we tell our clients, the first step is to prepare for planning. This may sound overly bureaucratic but bear with me because planning to plan is one of the most important steps in the process.
If you’re not ready – if your organization isn’t ready, able to put real effort into the work, or you’re moving through significant change, you may wonder if there’s a point in doing it – yet. Last month, Laridae consultant Rachel Pott wrote an excellent post covering a few instances when it might be a good idea NOT to plan.
Having determined we were in fact ready to get started, we began by aligning internally on things like, which stakeholders to engage with, and how. We also determined the big questions we want to ask our stakeholders about Laridae, and what additional tactics we might need to answer some of those questions.
Just as we would suggest to our clients for their strategic planning, we will spend the next several months moving through the following checklist:
- Thinking through environmental factors: risks and opportunities facing our business in the years ahead (did anyone foresee the pandemic?)
- Engaging staff, Advisory Board, clients, and professional service partners to find out what they think about Laridae across multiple factors
- Reflecting on our use of resources realigning people, money, and resources to move towards our goals and ensuring we continue to meet our purpose
- Draft our plan with the aim of launching in the fall
The best part of a strategic plan is that no one person can lay claim to it – or be blamed for it – whichever applies. It is the result of many inputs, from the leaders to the front lines, from clients to community members, and is inclusive of industry research, survey data, and a healthy dose of creative thinking from everyone involved.
We are looking forward to hearing from our stakeholders!
For this case study, we will share both the results of our research and engagement, as well as the final plan once it is complete. Watch for updates on our progress in the newsletter every so often as we consolidate our findings.
How can you help?
As we move through our planning process, we would like to invite you to come along. In doing so, you can learn what it’s like to work with us on a typical strategic plan. You can also take part as a contributor during our stakeholder engagement process. We would value your input.
Join a focus group
We will be handing over our Zoom accounts to friends of Laridae to conduct focus groups with present, past (and possibly future) clients and other important stakeholders to our business. We will review the output, but we won’t be on the line to hear it first-hand. We find this often helps people speak more frankly and offer greater truths. We can handle the truth! Sign up to join one of our focus groups:
Talk to us about your own strategic planning needs
This isn’t all about us! If you would like to discuss planning needs for your organization, please reach out and we can set up a meeting to discuss your goals.