To begin, Praxis facilitated a discovery process where stakeholders reflected on the past, evaluated the present, and imagined the future of Blossom Philadelphia. Praxis engaged stakeholders by:
- Interviewing external partners and thought leaders
- Facilitating focus groups with parents and caregivers
- Providing guidance to Blossom Philadelphia for conducting client focus groups
- Gathering input through surveys for Board, parents, caregivers, and staff
- Facilitating two half-day staff meetings (one for direct care staff, one for supervisors/managers)
This approach modeled Blossom Philadelphia’s value of inclusion, enriched the output by including diverse perspectives, and created a feeling of ownership among stakeholders. Praxis helped Blossom Philadelphia’s strategic planning committee discuss the themes from the discovery phase, draft their new mission, vision, and foundation principles, and identify strategic directions for the future. Additionally, Praxis developed a matrix map, which provided a visual picture of how Blossom Philadelphia’s programs contribute to their impact and financial profitability. This tool proved insightful and stimulating, prompting rich discussions about service quality, program opportunities, and their definitions of community and person-centered care.
Praxis then facilitated an all-day retreat where Board, managers, and direct care staff responded to the early draft of the mission, vision, and foundational principles, the matrix map, and preliminary goals and objectives. The feedback collected helped the strategic planning committee refine their plans to reflect the aspirations and realities of a broader group of board and staff.
Because the draft plan was ambitious, Paula asked Praxis to help prioritize their goals and strategies for the first year. Blossom Philadelphia identified the highest priority objectives for year one, setting the foundation for the years following. Per Paula: “When we got stuck, they would help us work through it and find the answers within ourselves without ever telling us what to do.” With a specific roadmap for the first year and aspirational goals for the long-term, Paula presented the plan in town halls to staff members to help them understand how it would affect them and their contribution to implementing it.
Reflecting on the engagement, Paula says “It was a wonderful experience. They took the time to know us, to understand us. It really stood out. I felt they really cared what happened to our organization, and what happened to us. They didn’t feel like consultants, they felt like they were part of us. They bought into our mission and kept it at the forefront of what we were trying to do. We were very successful. We have a clear implementation plan for year one, and now have a greater level of confidence and comfort with assessing our plans and deciding where we want to go. Through this project, we’ve developed a culture of learning. We’re much more willing to try things, and see where it takes us. It’s liberating! It was a really good and useful experience. I’ve already recommended them to a bunch of people looking to do strategic planning. The chemistry is right there. They did a great job. We did a great job. They helped us do a great job.”