Three Things I Learned at Our Annual Staff Planning Retreat

| by Shannon Williams

Earlier this week our team of nine spent a day-and-a-half focused on strategic planning. We are at the midpoint of our three-year plan, so we evaluated our progress and set goals for 2020. Beyond affirming that our team is comprised of amazing humans, here are three key takeaways that may apply to your team, too:

  1. The core values that have guided our firm for the last 16 years—Integrity, Experience, Relationships, and Results—are absolutely the foundation of everything we do. As the issues of our sector evolve, we reaffirmed our commitment to learn and respond to them through the lens of our values. Trends in the industry will come and go. As they do, we will analyze them through our values and frame our responses accordingly.

    Key takeaway: Be intentional about using our values as a guide and we will stay true to who we desire to be.

  2. Our number one goal as a firm is: Exceed client expectations. If we fail here nothing else matters.

    Key takeaway: Be intentional about clearly explaining what Armstrong McGuire will do to strengthen each partner organization. Pivot when something happens to alter the course. Communicate the course correction. Deliver meaningful results that the organization can practically implement. Celebrate their successes. Stay in touch as a sounding board, cheerleader, and a preferred partner.

  3. The 5 I’s that we teach in our art of the ask training—Identify, Investigate, Inform, Involve, Invite (to invest)—absolutely apply to our business development philosophy. And, we added a 6th I: Intentionality

    Key takeaway: Every step must be done with intentionality and through the lens of our core values. We start by identifying our more than 500 existing partners to see where they are in their organizational journeys and add new potential partners based on their organizational relationships to partners served. We investigate with integrity whether our experience can benefit each organization. We create a relationship-based strategy to inform and involve them in meaningful ways with our team, and we invite them to invest with us in their capacity building. We use our experience to deliver meaningful results.

Perhaps there is a fourth takeaway in all of this: Practice what you preach. The foundation of our operational plan parallels what we teach nonprofits every day. Successfully executing the plan will require intentionality for all of us.

As we close the first month of 2020, our team absolutely identified our word of the year: Intentional. If you are a part of our client family, you are not surprised. If you are not yet, we hope you will join us.

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