Case study: Awayday yielded goals for a decade

Nine trustees worked with 20 senior staff at children's communication charity I Can.

The challenge

I Can, the children's language and communication charity, needed to draw up its strategy for the next 10 years. It wanted to make sure trustees and senior management worked together to produce an appropriate plan.

The process

Trustees were asked last year to set the brief for the charity's strategy. Individual board members were consulted according to their expertise, and the board came up with 12 main strategy issues.

Building on the charity's tradition of awaydays for trustees and the senior management team, I Can took all of its 20 senior managers and nine trustees on a strategy day in June to discuss the brief. The new chair, Elizabeth Vallance, who starts this month, also attended. A corporate partner of BT, I Can got the chance to hold its session at the BT Tower in London.

"It was a great ice-breaker," says Virginia Beardshaw, chief executive of I Can. "BT even rotated the top of the tower for us as everyone arrived. It was a wonderful start to the day."

Discussions, facilitated by a member of not-for-profit consultancy the Office for Public Management, focused on the 12 main strategy issues outlined in the trustees' brief. "Our chair helped us choose a great facilitator with a strong background in children's policy," Beardshaw says. "It helped us keep the political and socio-economic context in mind."

Over the course of the day, the group carried out full analyses to assess the charity's strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats it faced, and how this fitted into the wider political, economic and social context.

The outcome

Following the meeting, I Can's trustees approved the charity's 10-year goals. The business plan for the next three years was left in the hands of senior managers and will be finalised at the charity's AGM next week.

Beardshaw says: "We will come to our AGM with something that the trustees own and will back, and that's a big plus. As we move forward, I think we have a very strong understanding of where the organisation is going."

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