A national environmental organization has dozens chapters across the country and a long history. With a shift in policy focus from the federal level to federal and state levels simultaneously, the national organization and chapters set out to redefine the appropriate division of labor, coordination of “turf,” and agenda setting.
The organizational leadership knew it needed a chapter/national relationship that was mutually respectful and beneficial including support for effective governance, management, fundraising, ability to deliver program, maintain quality, engage volunteers/donors, and create a culture of continuous learning and improvement. Solutions had to be developed through a transparent process that built trust and united focus. At the same time, any revised relationship would need to account for the differences in capacity among chapters, create opportunity and incentive to build at the national and local levels.
WHAT WE DID
We combined our expertise in internal organizational dialogue, joint investigation, and broad participation to create a tailored approach of working with an internal Task Force to design a discovery process, then continually adapted the emerging issues, vision, and action agenda until the final recommendations and implementation plans reflected a broad consensus informed by and tested through interviews, meetings, literature review, surveys, and online comments.
We developed recommendations by modeling the desired mutually beneficial relationship so that implementation was a continuation of the process rather than something completely new.
The organization established a framework and rationale for change, including a vision for the overall chapter/national relationship and for action areas needed to realize the vision. Implementation Teams took responsibility for developing project plans for each assigned area and a coordinating team ensures that the overall vision is being achieved.
In addition, the organization had greater buy-in and increased commitment to implementation, even when that implementation hits the predictably unpredicted hiccups.
We raised consciousness about the problem and solutions across the [organization].”
“We’ve created a pathway to real change in the [organization]. We’ve not just articulated recommendations but we’ve got implementation teams and board commitment. We’ve started changing the [organization].”
“Many people contacted were appreciative of having their input solicited. A lot of people were polled in an expanding circle. Their input was used. Well planned and done.”
“Heather brought a deep knowledge of [our organization] and other organizations, [and] the framework for change. She asked good questions and made proposals while letting the team make the decisions. She helped bring coherence to the whole process.”
— Task Force Members
Heather and her team were professional, well organized, well informed, and sensitive to our organizational culture. They delivered an outstanding final product on time and on budget and were a trusted partner in this difficult journey. Heather’s ability to actively listen and respect the opinions of all parties, but also efficiently get down to business to address the heart of the matter was essential to our success. She has made us stronger and more cohesive with a specific plan and roadmap for change. What more could I ask for?”
— Bruce Hamilton
Deputy Executive Director / Co-Chair of Chapter-National Relations Task Force, Sierra Club