Doing Strategic Planning #2: Decision Making and Identifying Policy Material through Discourse Analysis
Continuing on the posts about strategic planning, today I want to share how I encourage people to develop policy. The organization that I am helping had a baseline report drafted by a committee member. In the baseline report all of the areas of involvement were catalogued and this person identified several gaps in the way that the organization operated. This person also organized all of the decision-making processes that the organization (a small foundation) uses to conduct day-to-day business and to make decisions about monetary investments & expenditures.
The organization has a long history of successful functioning and I am only a recent player in the story, but the organization is in a state of transformation and part of my role is to bring consistency to the process of adaptation. Basically this project is sort of the development of a change-management strategy. This means that a lot of policies will need to be rewritten. In fact, decision-making is the prime goal of this particular strategic planning project.
Because the organization already had several documents and had recently drafted the baseline report I was able to compare the report to the historical documents and identify statements that would drive the prospective policy. I borrow a common industry standard called “requirements” that are basically active-voice, single-proposition statements that elucidate a concept that is vital to be considered in the system (the decision-making process in our case). Another feature of these statements is that they usually contain an auxiliary modal to indicate a degree of forcefulness behind the statement. Again, the idea is to get at what things are vital to be considered in the decision-making process.
I took the baseline report and identified what the committee member found as criteria for decision-making. I made a list of these items. Next, I took the historical decision-making documents and identified where those criteria came from in the historical document and made a list of those locations. This is like the process of making a concordance of references and is similar to the data management strategies that field linguists and anthropologists use in constructing data tables and dictionaries.
I asked the organization members to look through the documents and draft their own list of these vital statements so that through the process of this shared discourse experience they would become increasingly familiar with the actual textual material that we will be using to draft the strategy and goals in subsequent meetings. The idea was to get people thinking about what their real needs actually are before they start looking to the future and to do this with an eye toward using policy to keep their strategy planning in line with their vision and mission statement and other relevant brand documentation.
Stay tuned for further updates.