The Yakima Valley Community Foundation is moving beyond traditional strategic planning to a more “adaptive” planning philosophy. The difference is subtle: a traditional strategic plan assumes that there are technical solutions to community problems; that a single organization can change community conditions. Adaptive strategies assume that today’s problems more often require collaboration and learning. In other words, finding solutions to tough social challenges will require curiosity, commitment, partnership and perseverance.
It is worth a few words to explain why this approach is significant. Classical strategic planning presumes that problems are easily defined and successful interventions easily implemented.
We know that this is not always the case. In contrast, an “adaptive planning” framework invites collaboration, experimentation and learning.
We have adopted a metaphor for thinking about this shift in approach. Imagine the differences between a map and a compass. Maps are fixed at a point in time, limited to the information available when created. While useful, they lack "real time" information from fellow travelers and critical local knowledge. (If you have consulted with others drivers on a shared digital navigation platform, you know that sometimes the "map" is simply wrong.) In contrast, a compass allows a traveler to determine direction, take bearings, sight and detour when confronted with obstacles.
Used in real time from a precise location, it is essential when confronting an unknown and complex environment. It makes it possible for the traveler to "ground truth" his bearings and select the right path forward.
Our compass is the Strategic Framework. It makes explicit the vision, mission, values, and goals that will guide us in all we do. While specific goals and strategies will evolve over time, we expect this framework to be in place for many years. It will guide us as we build out detailed work plans for each year. Finally and importantly, to assure our Foundation stays focused and accountable, the board will regularly evaluate the organization’s alignment with its vision, mission and values to ensure the organization is making progress against its goals.