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Practising what I preach

By Iona Joy 9 March 2015

I’m a trustee of the London Wildlife Trust and we’re in the process of developing our 2015-2020 strategy—which means I must practice what I preach (give or take a few consulting models that fellow trustees didn’t quite go for!).

Developing a strategy is lot of work for a board and senior management team, but it’s enjoyable work. What I’ve relished most is establishing the ambition of the organisation. I won’t steal our own thunder—the launch is yet some months away—but I will say that we’re not intending to play shrinking violets over the coming years.

Our confidence has been boosted by winning some landmark projects, most notably our role in turning 220 hectares of Walthamstow reservoir into a wetland paradise for birds,  invertebrates and nature-loving Londoners. I can’t wait for the work to be complete.

Our approach to developing the strategy closely resembles NPC’s strategy triangle. We spent hours discussing our core purpose and values. We reviewed our external environment, using the PESTLE (or STEEPL) framework, which included phone calls to partners, ‘competitors’ (or rather, collaborators), and funders. We pondered the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation itself, commissioning a staff survey, consulting staff, and investing in key appointments. We even drafted a set of KPIs. The only thing we’ve not done at this stage is a full-blown theory of change. With the current chief executive departing after a committed and energetic decade at the helm, and a new one to be appointed, we thought we’d save that treat for later …

But it’s all very well having a new and shiny strategy. It then has to be implemented. We have a new(ish) and dynamic chair, who maintains momentum on multiple fronts. But does the rest of the board have the right skills mix to support the senior team to achieve such ambitions? Do we have enough staff with the right experience to get it all done? How will we pay for the extra bodies we need? Will the initiatives we have embarked upon/are proposing actually work? Will we learn from evidence, or plough on regardless of what the evidence says?

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to our Leading Impact conference on 24 March. The very varied speakers we have lined up might have some top tips for me as LWT completes, and then implements, its strategy.