Working a Plan: Slow and Steady Strategic Success

A year and a half into their strategic plan, we check in on the progress of a client and discover slow and steady success.

Picture from  Nurture.

Picture from Nurture.

Here, at The Spark Mill, we regularly dive in deep with our clients. For a typical strategic plan we spend about 6 months working very closely together – then, the organization sets out to do the work in the plan and we step back to watch the transformation happen from the outside. There are plenty of clients who I really, truly miss getting to work with after being so close for so long - and Nurture is one of them.  

I worked with Nurture on their strategic plan in the Fall of 2017. The board and staff recognized they needed a clearer path to get to their north star and likely some changes around how they did the work of Nurture. The vision was clear…the roadmap was murky. We created a strong, but ambitious plan.

“Working with The Spark Mill enabled us to explore our roots, discern what was holding us back and visualize where we wanted to go, resulting in a strategic plan that included some painful but necessary steps – like cutting back on programming so we could focus on our internal systems and capacity.  That pruning has led to better alignment of capacity and expectations, greater internal integrity, and a blossoming into new areas of growth.”
— Leslie Lytle

A year and a half later, as I follow Nurture from afar I’m in the cheering section for their success. Luckily they’ve given me a lot of reasons to cheer. Most recently, I was over the moon to read their blog post introducing their five new board members. Bringing more people into the fold of their work was an integral part of their plan, so on a surface level this was exciting. Most importantly, all five members are women of color who have the lived and working experience that embody the communities that needed to be represented in order for Nurture to fully live in to its commitment to diversity and equity in all aspects of their organization. A commitment they made in their strategic plan.

I caught up with Leslie Lytle the Founder and Executive Director of Nurture this week to check in. She told me over and over that all of the work they are doing is deliberate and with a slow pace, which is exactly what this kind of work requires. And, to be clear, it’s hard and long work.

In addition to working on their board, Nurture has grown all of their programming and stepped deeper and more intentionally into advocacy.  While advocacy isn’t new to them, it is morphing into a very important role that Nurture plays in the community. They have their annual Birth and Baby Fair coming up on April 6th, which is predicted to bring in the most sponsorships and foot traffic in the history of the event.

Basically, Nurture is moving through their strategic plan with gusto, and it shows in their impact. And just so you don’t think I’m trying to make it sound like everything is perfect, Leslie and I spent a long time talking about fundraising and ways to focus in on that strategic goal. But, that’s exactly how it’s supposed to work—we make 3-5 year plans for a reason!  

Basically, Nurture. is moving through their strategic plan with gusto, and it shows in their impact.

We encourage you to check out Nurture and learn more about their great work. If you are in an organization that needs help with the roadmap to your north star, we would love to work with you. But, don’t take it from us, take it from Leslie.