Business Projects

Client: Lois D. Cohen Associates

Situation

With a track record of success in the sectors of public outreach and community engagement, Lois D. Cohen Associates wanted do more than maintain its pattern of slow growth. But what should they do? And even if they knew what to do, how could they do it with few available resources?

Solution

Steaming Kettle supported Lois D. Cohen Associates by facilitating the group’s first-ever strategic plan. Three principles made the work successful:

  • Clarifying easy-to-conceive, easy-to-perform pre-planning work staff could undertake without facilitation
  • Facilitating a day-long learn-and-do strategic planning session
  • Ensuring the day ended with an actionable plan which, by construction, had the buy-in of the key stakeholders

Key Accomplishments

  • Business Context: pre-session research and analysis gave Lois D. Cohen Associates a new awareness of their relationship to their competitive sphere and the larger business ecosystem.
  • Internal Strengths and Weaknesses: participants rapidly framed the staff capabilities, emphasizing some underused skills and knowledge whose importance grew in light of increased understanding of their business context. The business context also helped participants get clear about the capabilities they didn’t have that were in evidence in their competition.
  • External Opportunities and Threats: guided pre-session research increased Lois D. Cohen Associates knowledge of their business environment. New possibilities were evident as were new dangers.
  • Strategies: participants practiced generating strategies for a similarly complex but fictitious business, then turned their new skills to their own business. The key to generating solid strategies rapidly was to only generate ideas that exploited an external opportunity or that counteracted and external threat.
  • Plans: staff easily selected the most viable, right-sized strategies. Simple planning tools provided by Steaming Kettle let the participants create end-to-end plans for each plank in their new strategy. By day’s end they had date-specific schedules as well as clear roles and responsibilities within each strategy.
  • Repeatable Process: the experience was designed and facilitated for repeatability without the need for future facilitation. Lois D. Cohen Associates left the session with all the tools and instructions needed to sustain their strategic planning function.