Breathing Life Into a Living Document: Strategic Plan
Greetings! My name is Jacqueline Singh. I’m an Executive Evaluation and Program Design Advisor at Qualitative Advantage, LLC and Program Chair for the Program Design TIG. As a new member to the PDTIG, it’s been an exciting first year due to an opportunity to lead our Leadership Team through a process to reassess aspects of the PDTIG. Additionally, we constructed a foundational structure by leveraging vertical and horizontal alignment strategies to facilitate articulation of our vision and mission statements, goals and values, as well as develop a conceptual framework. All are posted on the PDTIG Website.
Inspired by The Power of Alignment, attention to vertical alignment helped ensure PDTIG strategies are connected with AEA’s vision, mission, goals, and values. While attention to horizontal alignment helped ensure needs and expectations of AEA members who affiliate with the TIG are met. In doing so, we learned many things. Such as:
- PDTIG members have a deep interest in the relationship between program design and evaluation;
- They want to be part of a community to have greater discourse and networking opportunities—and, learn from others’ experiences;
- Members want practical resources to enhance their professional development as well as the desire to share and contribute.
The alignment processes used involved document analyses of website content; an in depth examination of 2016 PDTIG survey responses that assessed members’ needs; and, close review of the AEA strategic plan (April 1, 2015).
Despite great differences in time zones, the Leadership Team engaged in deep conversations to discuss:
- What will the PDTIG’s future look like?
- Will we plod along—or, “wildly succeed” to provide leadership becoming the “go-to entity” for information regarding the nexus of program design and evaluation?
- Success won't come looking for us—the TIG must pursue it.
- Effective goal setting will get us to stay on track (i.e., what’s written into the strategic plan).
- What are our specific goals? Do they align with AEA organizational goals and values?
- The timeline for achieving our goals.
- How will we know TIG goals have been achieved?
- How can the PDTIG celebrate successes along the way?
Using a SWOT framework, we documented and considered our strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats.
AThrough a positive lens, we engaged in conversations to discuss how to best address all four quadrants. TIG members attending the 2017 PDTIG business meeting in Washington, DC also weighed in to provide reactions and suggestions on completed deliverables that informed next steps, which resulted in the PDTIG’s first strategic plan—a living document that’s “meant to evolve over time as the environment changes or goals are achieved.”
Lessons Learned: 1) Breathing life into a living document takes time; it requires members’ involvement, commitment, and ownership. 2) The PDTIG is in good company, as other TIGs have also shared important strategy work on respective TIG websites (e.g, Independent Consulting and Social Impact Measurement) from which other valuable lessons can be learned.