By Danielle Rocheleau, CEO
As we work to develop our new 2023-2026 Strategic Plan, we are looking back to our 2019-2022 Strategic Plan and asking, “how did we do?”
This isn’t the first time we’ve reflected on our progress – it’s important that a strategic plan be a living, guiding document that is regularly referenced. We have been consistently tracking our progress toward our directions via quarterly KPI reports and yearly re-assessments of our operational objectives.
However, now that we have reached the end of the strategic plan’s intended time frame, this reflection takes on a new importance.
Were we able to achieve what we set out to achieve?
Let’s take a look at each direction.
Strategic Direction #1: A Strong and Stable Company
“We are here for the long haul.
As a values driven company, we know that we can only deliver on our purpose by ensuring that we are sustainable. Although success is our ultimate goal, we will define it in our own way.
We will question growth for the sake of growth, and we will strive to make decisions that make us stronger, better, and more supportive of the people and organizations delivering important human services across Ontario and beyond.
Laridae will make financial decisions that enhance stability, we will invest in hiring when we’re ready, we will ensure ongoing knowledge transfer to increase internal capacity and reduce gaps, and we will actively manage ongoing risk.”
How did we do?
- Internal systems: Drafted a team charter, which explicitly defined roles and our team-based structure enabling autonomy and team wide decision making; developed systems and processes for effective internal knowledge management (using Guru).
- Diversified revenue: Introduced our training services, an entirely new service area, which now accounts for almost half of our yearly our revenue.
- Explored new opportunities: Explored new kinds of partnerships that resulted in new kinds of services (e.g. partnering with United Ways resulted in the development of our Leadership Development Program). We launched The Pier, an online community of practice. Although we eventually decided to shutter it, we were able to learn a lot, grow awareness, and develop new partnerships.
- Intentional communications: For the first time, we became proactive and intentional with our outward marketing and communications, enabling us to reach new audiences and build new relationships.
- Succession: Successfully moved through two major transitions – first between CEOs, and then the transition of ownership.
Strategic Direction #2: A Valued Workplace Culture
“We are committed to ensuring Laridae remains a great place to work.
Through our behaviour as a company, as a team, and as individuals, we have created a workplace culture that is supportive, collaborative, and self-managed. We attract and retain people who share our values, who are driven by purpose, and who ultimately want to have a positive impact on the world.
As an organization, we respect and value our team members, and demonstrate this through transparency and advice-based decision making, and by leading with our values.
We lean into challenging discussions with the purpose of driving solutions that make the company and our team stronger.
Laridae strives to offer competitive compensation packages that consider work-life balance, pay appropriately, and ensure long-term staff satisfaction and retention. Laridae is a place that ensures continuous learning and provides opportunities for individual growth.
Each team member is integral to the success of the company and contributes to the collective experiences we have together and with our clients.
Laridae is place where people come to work, contribute and grow.”
How did we do?
- Stuck it out as a team: Stayed true to our values – despite the ups and downs. We were able to navigate the early days of the pandemic together as a team, temporarily reducing all of our salaries thus avoiding the need to lay anyone off.
- Work life-balance: We implemented a four-day workweek and encouraged work-life balance, moving to measuring vacation time as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) and ensuring everyone is taking their well-deserved time off to disconnect.
- Compensation: We enhanced our compensation through increasing collective salaries, adding a flexible health benefits package, and – although COVID placed a pause for some time – we were able to resume offering bonuses based on our collective team’s success.
- Development: We continued to regularly invest in our learning for skills development & for our team, specifically in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), as well as tracking this professional development time as a KPI.
- Internal communications & continued cohesion: Met the challenge of fully remote work during the pandemic with an effective set of internal communications strategies that enabled us to maintain team culture and connections, and to effectively collaborate to manage projects and deliver services. Specific tactics included a successful implementation of group chat and messaging via Slack, team and 1:1 meetings via Zoom, weekly informal coffee chat get-togethers, and occasional virtual and in-person social events.
- Staff satisfaction: Proactively encouraged and responded to staff feedback via quarterly pulse surveys that enabled us to monitor key staff satisfaction metrics and gave staff a reliable channel to provide anonymous feedback. Introduced a standardized exit survey and interview for staff who choose to move on from Laridae.
- Onboarding: Developed and implemented a more comprehensive and intentional approach to onboarding, based on a standardized and documented process, augmented by regular 1:1 mentoring. Additionally, implemented 1- and 3-month onboarding surveys to ensure that we can continue to improve the process.
- Became a distributed, remote team: Have recruited team members from outside of our hometown of Peterborough, Ontario and are functioning internally as a fully remote team.
Strategic Direction #3: An Excellent Client Experience
“Our clients work hard. We are continuously impressed by the level of value and service our clients deliver to the communities in which they operate.
We know that our clients work in a world of change and pressure, and lack funding and resources – and yet they are committed to their mission. Understanding this landscape, and the people that work within it, is what ultimately drives Laridae’s purpose.
As our mission states, we are here to solve the non-profit and public sector’s toughest challenges; help leaders implement change that lasts; and support organizational resiliency and sustainability so our clients can soar. To do this, Laridae values the development of strong relationships with our clients. We want to be sure that each client has a positive and empowering experience, which results in practical solutions that build capacity and can easily be implemented.
Through ongoing client engagement, regular reviews of our processes, reflections on our strengths, and staying on top of best practices, we are committed to delivering the best quality services that are responsive to the needs of our clients.
As we continue to grow and evolve as a company, we are committed to finding ways to deliver accessible service and resources to small organizations, add value to large service providers, and facilitate community capacity building across Ontario and beyond.”
How did we do?
- Client Journey: Articulated and refined our client journey, created a smoother and more welcoming experience that enables potential clients to better get to know us and understand how we can help them achieve their goals.
- Focused: Intentionally focused on service areas where we could make the biggest impact, and deprioritized areas where we had less experience, referring clients to professional service partners with the relevant expertise.
- Pivoted to virtual: Prioritized client experience as we transitioned to a virtual-first world, focusing on effective online engagement and ultimately maintaining – and even enhancing – client experience, which has been reinforced by the results of our client feedback surveys.
- Rooted in evidence: Moved beyond anecdotal observations, and launched benchmarking tools that would enable us to quantify and improve our impact.
- Long-term relationships: Prioritized the development of long-term relationships with clients who align with our values, increasing predictability, lowering risk, and enabling more efficient and effective support during the lifetime of the relationship.
The last three years were not without their challenges, but we are proud of the progress we made toward all three of our strategic directions.
We are currently in the process of developing our 2023-2026 Strategic Plan, which will provide us with a fresh set of strategic directions to guide us. This plan will take into account the progress we have outlined here, as well as the input we have received during our recent stakeholder engagement process and an environmental scan of the non-profit sector. We’ll be posting updates on our progress as we move forward.
Looking for help with your strategic plan?
If you are looking for help developing a new strategic plan for your non-profit, or operationalizing one you already have, get in touch and we can setup an initial discovery call to learn more about your challenges and goals.