C2EC Corps de Ballet Module 3: A New Way to Look at Strategic Plans

Corps de Ballet Module 3: A New Way to Look at Strategic Plans

If mission, vision, and values are the Holy Trinity of the work of IDEA then the strategic plan could be seen as a book in the Bible. It is the obligatory organizational document required by the Board of Directors and funders alike that is lays out a step by step action plan for 3-5 years. As DEI or IDEA became a new mandate for all sectors including arts organizations, it became obligatory segment to be inserted into that strategic plans. Often these sections presented (both on paper and in reality) like addendums that were not integrated into the overarching vision.  Today it is better understood that the work of IDEA and Cultural Competence can not be appliqué or after though, rather the work of becoming an anti-racist, inclusive and equitable organization requires a 360° approach that endeavors to embed these principles into the culture of the organization.

If we truly seek to normalize the work and the change we must actively move towards embodiment.

When searching for some to help me articulate a reframing of the way in which we approach and implement strategic plans, there was only one dynamic woman that came to mind: The one and only Tammy Bormann. Tammy was a member of the Equity Projects’ Design and Facilitation Team. She is a true force of nature and a warrior in this work. I have been trying to get her in here for a while now because in my opinion there is no one more knowledgeable and passionate  then Tell it Like it is TAMMY!!



Tammy Bormann

Tammy is principal of the TLB Collective, a nationwide community of educators, scholars and activists committed to dismantling racism through knowledge, dialogue and systemic change.  The TLB Collective researches, designs and facilitates dialogue-based change processes that disseminate knowledge, create lenses of analysis, and equip individuals and organizations across the US with the tools they need to identify and dismantle systems of inequity.  Tammy works domestically and internationally to train others to design and facilitate intentional dialogue processes that invite deep learning, collective reflection and informed action for social change.   She earned her BA in French and Communications Studies from Muhlenberg College, where she currently serves as a Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, and her Ed.M from Harvard University.

Note: this has a longer running time (1:17:00) but it is worth it. You can totally listen to it podcast style as there are no graphics in the video!!

TAKE AWAYS (Feel free to Copy and Paste!)

  • When I think of a strategic plan I think of Google Maps
  • A strategic plan is a map
  • A strategic plan has to be about organizational culture shift
  • To do things differently we have to BE different
  • The first organizational strategic plan should address culture
  • Policies, practices, behaviors, how we reward people, climate
  • If culture is what you do, climate is how you feel about what you do
  • It’s mapping culture transformation
  • Culture transformation doesn’t happen without intention, or analysis
  • Assessing organizational culture is not the afterthought, rather where you begin
  • Creating a process for strategic planning that is inclusive, models the culture we want to create
  • Create a covenant of engagement for your strategic planning team
  • What is the collective idea vision for the organization
  • In order to become something we need to name what we have been and why the vision is changing
  • I don’t have to tall you what our identity is, you can tell me
  • Culture is behaved
  • What are the behaviors that we should see in practice?
  • Take the beautiful and metaphorical and ask what will it look like every day?
  • What are the behaviors that will manifest our core values, and how do we want people to feel?
  • We will create an environment where our identity will be made plain
  • If people don’t feel it, it’s marketing
  • Where is the humanity in your strategic plan? I hear the paper, but where are the people?
  • Organizations often lean on strategic plans like a pillow
  • Cultural transformation requires the people of the organization to be engaged
  • The process itself is the practice, and can initiate the change before the ink is dry on the plan
  • The process is the the tool, the plan is the outcome
  • Amy Edmondson: Psychological safety is a work environment where people feel and know that they can ask a difficult question, disrupt the status quo, they can make a mistaken learn from it all without being punished, humiliated or dismissed.
  • Psychological safety is experienced by everyone, but is the responsibility of leaders
  • You know your organizations because you live in them
  • If you are a part of the problem, you need to know about it
  • Having many eyes, and voices in the process creates accountability partners
  • There is a price you will pay (an expectation) for creating a collaborative process
  • There is a difference between brave spaces and safe spaces
  • Safety has been conflated with comfort
  • Intent vs Impact
  • You are not responsible for what you didn’t know, but you are responsible for learning and doing better
  • In a brave space the impact has to always be centered
  • When you have a leader who has the capacity and willingness to be vulnerable, everything changes
  • When vulnerability is cared for, even people who have been marginalized can have safety
  • When you create a team, and take the energy, the emotional labor and do not follow through it is tantamount to betrayal.
  • If you have 10 people on your team 40 people know what happened in the meeting
  • There is a moral obligation to right by the people who serve
  • Accountability and buy in are built in from the start
  • You cannot do this work modeling the old paradigm
  • You have to honor the process that you have created and invited people to participate in
  • The plan is the map, but then you have to get in the care and take the trip
  • How do you operationalize a strategic plan?
  • Each department should find themselves in the larger plan and determine what their roles and and goals are toward implementation
  • Segment your plan by year, and departmental responsibility
  • It’s not held at the top, rather is its divided up, and everyone has an assignment
  • Everyone must be able to “find” themselves in the plan
  • Determining how each department needs to interact with each other to get the work done
  • We have to change the way we are in RELATIONSHIP to the strategic plan in a way that supports a cultural shift
  • How often should be checking in on your strategic plan?
  • Leadership team will benefit from functioning as a “Community of Practice”
  • A community of practice is not just concerned with the “what”, but also with the HOW
  • The “How we are leading” merits time for examination and reflection
  • Suggested formalized check in on an annual basis
  • A benefit to a community of practice is flagging issue early and course correcting sooner
  • When you report out, or speak on you strategic plan, the community of practice model is built in.
  • It is not just WHAT you accomplished but HOW you accomplished it
  • Formalized feedback loop, annual climate assessment
  • Annual assessments become the mechanism for tracking progress as well as pinpoint blocks
  • You have to accept the feedback and people need to feel safe enough to offer it * Psychological safety
  • Developing a practice of/a culture of learning, growing
  • Normalize Pulse Surveys
  • Ballet has to reckon with the power it give legacy
  • You are changing the house not knocking down the foundation
  • Releasing the culture of perfection, and embracing the culture of process
  • The process is the Point!
  • Perfection is a losery,, “perfect” will never be perfect for everyone
  • Our Lens can color the way we perceive the meaning of words like excellence
  • Clarifying the definitions of your organizational qualifiers is strategy, it is tactics
  • Writing down what you are going to do is the EASY PART!
  • How many leaders see themselves shepherds, or caretakers of their organizations?
  • Leaders are custodians of organizations not possessors of them
  • Shifting from possessor to custodian can relieve some of the pressure of “I’m not holding this forever”
  • Artistic directors do not have to operate like they are “Single Parents”
  • It is not about perfection but the effort, the striving for it
  • Chief Diversity Officers (COD) are often saddled with the full weight of this work, under budgeted and disempowered , yet fully responsible
  • Note: this is often the reason for high turnover in this position and burnout
  • CDOs are often BIPOC, often female, and take on the emotional labor, and weigh of creating impactful change alone
  • Your CDOs need to be held, supported, and empowered
  • You want the CDO to fix everyone but YOU
  • You are perpetuating the harm
  • CDOs and DEI Teams need to be free to do the work and supported in it


Additional Resources

Amy Edmondson


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