Bringing in All Voices: Collaborative & Inclusive Visioning in Vermont

The Situation

Upper Valley Services (UVS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing services and support for people with developmental disabilities in Vermont. It is led by a strong team of visionary leaders. UVS sought to engage its staff, board, service providers and the larger community in an inclusive facilitated discovery process to create a plan for the future state of the organization.

The Journey

GLP consultants and UVS leadership generated a picture of the current reality, both internal and external that was critical for framing the future focus. Structured conversations, surveys and interviews were designed and combined with objective data about the organization and its trajectory in order to describe:

  1. The platform for change – Internal exploration of strengths, core capacities and key learning. What is working that we want to continue strengthening? What has worked and we want to continue doing? What has been achieved? What are we learning from the challenges we have experienced?
  2. The context for change – External exploration of the changes in our landscape, and what the world is asking of us now. What has shifted in the context? What is the larger community asking of us today and into the future? What conditions can we expect to navigate?

As a fun way of collecting data that also strengthened connections, the broader UVS community was invited to a Community Picnic to connect, celebrate achievements, and brainstorm directions for the future. The Board/Leadership Retreat summarized the collected data and a planning document was drafted through a facilitated planning dialogue using the SOAR planning process.

The Impact

It is UVS’s hope that this strategic plan will:

  • Guide decisions and work for the next several years
  • Clarify leadership and governance decisions for the Board of Directors
  • Clarify the role and expectations of the Executive Director

It is also hoped that the facilitated in-person strategic planning event:

  • Strengthened the feeling of teamwork for all staff members.
  • Increased confidence and connection between UVS, stakeholders and the supporting community
  • Increased trust in the UVS leadership and staff
  • Ensured ownership of staff, stakeholders and supporting community in the UVS work and vision.