It can be hard to make planning sexy, even when you are planning how to talk about sex… this year SERC (Sexuality Education Resource Centre MB) is engaging in a process to establish a new strategic plan to govern the organization moving forward over the next couple of years. SERC’s last strategic plan was a highly involved process and it appears we all are still very much in agreement that our vision and mission have not changed, but it is time to set some new strategic outcomes and goals.
I personally find strategic planning very exciting; to me it is an opportunity to come together and celebrate what is working and figure out how we can better address our gaps. I think a good strategic plan sets an organization up for success, and when done well can help staff and board feel engaged in defining the work to be done.
Early on the board and management at SERC agreed that we wanted to use an outside facilitator to help us drive the work and reduce bias. After meeting with several we engaged Rhonda Lorch to assist us in putting together our plan. We identified that there was general consensus that we did not need to reopen our mission and vision as we continue to feel these were a good fit, what we needed was a process to identify new strategic outcomes, and update our Belief Statements , which are important for defining our values and approaches. We also knew that we wanted our staff to feel engaged in this process from the start, and that we needed their input to help inform the board on what we were seeing and hearing in our work. Hence, we began with a two day session for staff last October to identify what they wanted the board to hear and prioritize.
So what did we hear?
We heard we have lots to celebrate, including:
- A Responsive organization
- Our work with youth, new Canadians and difficult to reach populations
- Our collaborative and engaging approach
- Ability to recruit great new people for staff and board; high level of expertise
- Becoming the ‘go to’ agency on sexuality issues
- Transparent and open organizational culture
- A solid history and reputation in community
And, we heard we still have some challenges, such as:
- Diversification of the message and information, clear language
- Media is rapidly changing – how do we stay ahead and leverage it well
- Continuing our efforts to be the ‘go to’ place for sexuality issues and information
- Creating focus: What are our areas of expertise? Can we be everything?
- SERC is a Manitoba organization: reaching across many communities is challenging
- Staying responsive as new issues arise
Armed with this information and more, Rhonda facilitated a full day session with the board in January to try to set some initial strategic outcomes. Our Board of Directors was clearly impressed by the amount of information the staff had put forward to them and found it extremely helpful in setting our outcomes and success indicators. The board recommended three strategic outcomes for SERC over the next three years:
- SERC is visible, recognizable and accessible across Manitoba.
- SERC’s mandate and position on sexuality related issues are broadly understood.
- SERC programs and resources are well-defined and congruent with its core mandate.
Which brings me to last Wednesday; our board and staff came together to share lunch and review the proposed strategic outcomes. Coming together in this way reminded me of how much I appreciate this organization and how passionate our board and staff are about what we do. What is apparent is that there is unanimous agreement on the three outcomes from the outset. We have some very important discussions on strategies that we will need to continue to flesh out moving forward, but it is the way these discussions happen that most impresses me about SERC. Every time I have the opportunity to engage in one, I leave feeling a little more informed. We know that we have to figure out the question of how we respect the incredible work we do with focused populations such as indigenous communities, through White Wolf Speaking, or Newcomers through various workshops and programs; while trying to balance our very large mandate. Perhaps the fundamental question for SERC right now is:
When we talk about sex- who should we be talking with?
The answer we want is clear- everyone. We just need to figure out how.
On that note, I was able to wrap up our session last week with a practice of my Fast Pitch for SERC, which I presented on Thursday for a crowd of about 200 people at The Met Theatre, along with nine other community partners and non-profits as part of the Winnipeg Foundation Fast Pitch program. To learn more about my Fast Pitch experience visit my previous Let’s Talk About Sex Blog.
I am very aware of how much this planning process has framed my Fast Pitch ask for support to help us raise awareness of our Fact’s of Life Program. I have been thrilled by the opportunity to participate and talk about this important topic with so many in our community… because talking about sex is not that different from engaging in it… it is always best if you plan ahead.