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“The hallmark of Jim's service is that he delivers incredible value. He not only trained my team on how to do strategic planning, he creatively used the time to have us custom design our own strategic planning process. What a positive and productive experience!”

Lisa Coscia, Regional Vice President for the Mid-Atlantic Region, The Mentor Network



The Mid-Atlantic Regional Vice President of The Mentor Network, a for profit national network human services providers offering an array of community based services for adults and children with developmental disabilities and acquired brain injury as well as services for children and adolescents with emotional, behavioral and medically complex challenges and elders in need of home care asked us to train the northeast and mid-Atlantic state directors and key staff how to do appreciative strategic planning. The northeast, southeast and mid-Atlantic Regional Vice Presidents were interested in having their nine states conduct strategic planning for new business growth and development and quality of service improvement.

Working in collaborative consultation with the northeast Regional VP, we custom designed a program that would accomplish the following:

  • Train approximately 50 participants representing nine states on how to conduct an appreciative inquiry strategic planning process with the SOAR Framework: Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results.
  • Produce a model template for conducting appreciative inquiry SOAR strategic planning processes and workshops state by state.

We agreed that the appreciative strategic planning training and state by state process design would be accomplished through a day and a half program.

The participants in the program learned:

  • The difference between typical strategic planning and appreciative inquiry SOAR framework strategic planning.
  • How to design and plan for whole system involvement of internal and external stakeholders.
  • The principles and practices of appreciative inquiry as a way to transform organizations.
  • The 4-I appreciative inquiry cycle: Inquire, Imagine, Innovate and Implement.
  • How to construct positive ‘Affirmative Topic Choices’.
  • How to use reframing techniques to switch from problem deficit analysis paralysis to strategic possibility planning.
  • How to construct Appreciative Questions for effective executive solutions.
  • How to imagine and plan for a desired strategic future for organizational growth and prosperity.

A key outcome of the program was that each of the states designed and planned their own appreciative strategic planning process. Each state took away from the program a custom designed day and a half model for conducting an appreciative inquiry strategic planning workshop.

It is anticipated that this process will lead to positive bottom line growth for the company through improved quality of service delivery by an energized Mentor Network workforce. The Program produced the added benefit of having colleagues across state boundaries share stories of best practices for improved quality of services to clients.