About Baird
Strategic Planning
Creating Programs
Building Membership

When Will Donations Arrive?

Database Survey of Watershed and River Groups: Part 1 - What They're Using and How They Like It

Database Survey of Watershed and River Groups: Part 2 - Costs and Benefits

Broader Movement

The Broader Movement: Enviro' Groups 1989 - 2005

Building Citizen Advocacy Groups for the Environment
Case Study

Strategic Planning: Process and Tools

For full-fledged strategic planning, I like to work in two phases:

  • Assessment and investigation – assessing your past performance, looking at future trends, identifying key strategic issues, and investigating them

  • Integrating the conclusions into a workable plan –proposing goals and strategies, and making sure that you can generate the fundraising, staffing, and board you need to achieve them.

Some of the tools I use:

  • Interviewing board, staff, and funders

  • Online surveys for a broader set of stakeholders

  • A sampling of “strategic planning templates” you can choose from

  • Working with sub-groups to investigate strategic questions

  • Advice and consultation with experts or leaders from other similar organizations

  • Fundraising projections

  • Implementation and monitoring plans

Ideally, I like to work over a period of 6 months or more, and to meet in person twice during that time. But I’ve also done great planning in less than three months with only one in-person meeting – though it was a sprint for board and staff from start to finish.

“Working with Baird Straughan over the years has been both an absolute pleasure and incredibly productive. Not only did he help Dogwood Alliance develop a comprehensive and meaningful strategic plan, he also helped us develop the organizational resources in terms of development and sustainability that turned the plan into a reality. Our organization has benefited greatly from his gift for strategy and full systems thinking and we will continue to turn to him in his new role for support and guidance.” – Scot Quaranda, Dogwood Alliance

Facilitation of Coalitions and Networks

I’ve helped coalitions, alliances, and networks to form, to plan campaigns or projects, to address frustrating internal barriers, and even to close down.  Some of the tools I use:

  • Different models for networks, coalitions, or alliances

  • Best practices for strengthening your work together

  • Analyzing how coalitions and networks develop over time, and how that applies to you

  • Procedures and practices to smooth the work

  • Activities to build understanding and trust among members

  • Coaching leaders in the skills needed to lead inter-organizational groups.

This work is one of my greatest satisfactions.  When coalitions or networks function well, they often have a lot of leverage for change.  But when they have conflicts, those absorb a lot of unnecessary energy and divide the community.  It makes a big difference to do this right, and given the intricacies of working in an organization of organizations, it’s often not easy.

"Baird, I just want to appreciate you for the strong groundwork you helped the ADEM Reform Coalition lay that led to the EMC’s [oversight commission’s] courageous action [to dismiss the director].  Your facilitation help as we formed the coalition and drafted our “Blueprint for ADEM Reform” smoothed controversies, harnessed egos, and helped us stay focused and productive.” – Beth Stewart, Cahaba River Society

“On behalf of myself and other Tennessee organizations, I'd like to thank you for your work as facilitator of the Tennessee Water Groups.  For over two years you helped to bring together a badly divided group of leaders to find common ground and goals.  The work has regularly been challenging.  We have appreciated your steady and even-handed approach, and the conceptual frameworks you've brought to our internal systems and procedures.  As you know, our tendency as program leaders is to leap into the policy details immediately, and your gentle reminders to attend to the internal details of our coalition have made a big difference.  I'm sure that the result will be a more effective river and watershed movement in Tennessee long-term.” – Wendy Smith, World Wildlife Fund Southeast Rivers and Streams Program