Strategic Planning (or, why we need a House of Friendship road map)

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This year at the House of Friendship we developed a new strategic plan for the whole organization, including new mission and vision statements, and new organizational values. Visit our website to read our full plan (its not long, I promise!) Over 400 people were consulted in the development phase of the strategic plan, and over one third of those consulted were past and present program participants. This is the first of a series of blog posts that will explore these new statements in relation to Food Hampers and other House of Friendship programs. Before I get into how the strategic plan shapes our programs, I want to go into the importance of having a strategic plan.

This article on strategic planning starts with a quote from Wayne Gretzky, who once said “I skate to where I think the puck will be.” Similarly, the House of Friendship needs to not only be aware of current social realities (poverty, disability, troubled neighborhoods and communities for example), but anticipate future social realities in order to grow to meet the needs of our community.

Think about each House of Friendship program as a person. Together, the programs form a group of people who are navigating obstacles as they try to support people through housing instability, isolation, poverty, addiction, and food insecurity. Picture this group of people travelling on a journey, where they have agreed on an end point—a city, for example. They also agree on how they will travel to this city; by foot, by car, by bike, or by transit. They know it is going to take them a long time—probably years—to reach their end point, so they decide on a set of guiding principles to help them work together as a group, and to determine how to act should they run into problems.

In real life, a strategic plan works much like this. For the House of Friendship, the end goal of our work is our vision: A healthy community where all can belong and thrive.  Maybe this will be unattainable in our lifetimes, but this is the work we have set for ourselves throughout our history. How we get there is our mission statement: House of Friendship strengthens people and communities by being there when needed, speaking up and working together. The shared principles about how we act and how we treat others on our journey are our core values. Going back to the hockey analogy, Wayne Gretzky doesn’t play hockey with a copy of the team’s mission, vision, and values out at all time, but he does pay attention to the coach’s game plan, while taking into account the immediate realities of his surroundings. In the same way, the House of Friendship has a game plan, or strategic plan, which helps individual programs deal with new situations as we travel down the path to a healthier community.

In the long-term, a good strategic plan should shape every operation of the organization. Each program should fit into the organizational mandate and operate in line with the values. In an organization like the House of Friendship where there are many programs in different places around Waterloo Region, it can also be a unifying force; although I rarely see our community centres in action, because I work at the food hamper program, I know they are working towards the same common cause.

In upcoming posts this summer we are going to explore how our programs are thinking about and living out our new strategic plan in their day to day work. We have a really diverse set of programs that each contribute to creating a healthy community in their own way, and we share common values that bind us together. I’m looking forward to explore the impact of the new plan on all of the work we do at the House of Friendship. Stay tuned!

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One Response to “Strategic Planning (or, why we need a House of Friendship road map)”

  1. Advocacy with purpose: ‘speaking up’ at the House of Friendship « Hofemergencyfoodassistance's Blog Says:

    […] ‘speaking up’ at the House of Friendship by erinepp As I talked about in a previous post, at House of Friendship we recently developed a new strategic plan, including a new mission, […]

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