When “Plan” Is Not A Dusty Word

Written by Amanda Cote

On May 9, 2011

For me, the word “plan” often conjures up the image of a binder filled with a lengthy written report that includes detailed charts, data, and appendices. Perhaps it was mandated by some funding source. Or, maybe a previous Board of Directors thought it would be a good idea. Even worse, it may have been some MBA student’s class project.
Regardless of why it was commissioned, my experience is that plans like these are usually out-of-date by the time that they are written, provide very little practical guidance, and often provide high-level goals and objectives, but not the roadmap to get there. These plans are usually gathering dust on someone’s bookshelf and maybe dusted off once in a blue moon, which is usually because the next planning cycle is coming around.

But, “Plan” doesn’t have to be a dusty word. It can be action-focused, outcome-driven, and yes…even fun! At CPN, we’re committed to make sure that our plans don’t just sit on a shelf, but that they are “alive” and provide us with the navigation that we need to work alongside our partners and the entire Neighborhood to take concrete action to ensure that every child in the Neighborhood has a clear path to college and that our Neighborhood as a whole will be a thriving community.

Don’t believe me? Check out the results of planning that happened during the month of April here at CPN.

Here’s a snip of what came out of just one two-hour brainstorming session on our SistaFriends Empowerment Project on April 16th.

SistaFriends Empowerment Process

SistaFriends Empowerment Process

Leveraging the work of that group as well as our research on international best practices for empowering women, we’ve been invited to submit a three-year funding request that would allow us to work hand-in-hand with Neighborhood women to design and launch this program beginning this summer. View the full summary here.

And, here’s a snip from our recent Community Engagement Council (CEC) planning meeting held on April 28th.

Community Engagement Council Projects

Community Engagement Council Projects

The CEC is already beginning to create a Neighborhood-wide Youth Leadership Council, offer a series of leadership trainings to community members, and get the word out about the many meetings and events that are happening in the Neighborhood where residents need to be at the table and making their voices heard. Read more here.

Finally, on April 27th, our Board of Directors unanimously approved the first year of our “cross-school infusion plan” that includes focusing across our four partner elementary school on ensuring that children are healthy, arrive school prepared to learn, and are college-bound as early as kindergarten.

Year 1 Cross-School Focus with Our Partner Elementary Schools

Year 1 Cross-School Focus with Our Partner Elementary Schools

We’re in the process of setting up action teams and meeting with key partners to drive change. Read the entire plan here (which is only 19 slides long, by the way).

So, while Dwight D. Eisenhower may have been right when he said that “plans are useless but planning is indispensable,” I’m pretty sure he was talking about those dusty plans of yesterday, not the action plans of today. In fact, here at CPN there are a few more quotes from President Eisenhower that match our culture a bit more:

“Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”

and my personal favorite from DDE,

“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head-that’s assault, not leadership.”

As always, we welcome your comments and thoughts!

Warm regards,