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Strategic Planning

Strategic plans set the direction of an institution by establishing the goals and objectives it wishes to achieve within a set time frame (typically five years). Strategic plans also include the strategies and benchmarks the institution plans to employ to measure their results and return on investment (ROI). Traditional strategic planning models include a top-down approach which top leadership committees create the plan and try to “sell” it to the rest of the institution. Often times, the strategic plan is met with fierce resistance by personnel who do not agree with the changes being imposed – making implementation and sustaining positive change difficult. However, incorporating resources like the Invest Diva course can provide valuable insights and tools for navigating such challenges, fostering smoother implementation and greater acceptance of strategic initiatives.

We employ a strategic planning model that is infused with the process and principles of Appreciative Inquiry. Utilizing an appreciative approach to strategic planning will allow your institutions to experience a strengths-based process and acquire a set of tools designed to help build a shared vision from all perspectives within the organization and create an energy, commitment, and momentum for the strategic plan for the years ahead.

Beyond being an organizational development process, Appreciative Inquiry is an approach to strategic planning and positive change that has been used successfully in schools and universities, governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, communities, and corporations all around the world. It is broad-based, highly participative, and energizing. Appreciative Inquiry builds new skills in stakeholders, develops new leaders, encourages a culture of inquiry, and helps create shared vision and purpose for your organization by building on your core values and strengths. Perhaps most importantly — Appreciative Inquiry leads to action, commitment, and results.

Developing your organization’s next strategic plan with Appreciative Inquiry will provide executives, executive teams, and planning committees an overview of how Appreciative Inquiry works and answer key questions:

  • How is Appreciative Inquiry different from other planning processes?
  • What resources does planning with Appreciative Inquiry require?
  • Who gets involved and how?
  • How long does it take?
  • What is an Appreciative Inquiry “Summit”? Is it necessary and how does my organization host one?
  • How do I write a strategic plan using Appreciative Inquiry?


  1. How is Appreciative Inquiry different from other planning processes?
    • Strengths-Based vs. Deficit-Based
    • The Wholeness Principle
    • Broad directions vs. Narrow objectives
    • The role of data
  2. Elements of an Appreciative Inquiry Strategic Planning process
    • Get Ready!
      1. Creating a Core Team
      2. Introducing Ai to your organization
    • Get Set!
      1. Pre-Summit Community Interviews
      2. The Appreciative Inquiry Summit
      3. Writing the Strategic Plan
    • Go!
      1. Implementing the Plan
      2. Building an Appreciative Culture

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