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  • Jenny Kobiela-Mondor

    October 20, 2021 at 6:18 am

    The library strategic planning retreat I was able to observe a few weeks ago used the SOAR framework and overlaid Discover, Dream, and Design (the topic had already been defined from aspirations put together from a community engagement report that came from community and staff interviews, with questions based on the Harwood Institute Ask Tool). So in the Discover stage, we worked on Strengths of the library and grouped them through affinity mapping – which became the library’s core values. The Dream stage was Aspirations, imagining what the library could look like 5 years from now and grouping them through affinity mapping, then creating visual images and a statement to reflect the vision for the library. The Design stage was Opportunities, ways that the library could achieve their vision and narrowing those via affinity mapping to 3-5 key strategic focus areas. Then, we started to talk about outcomes/impacts to prime the pump for an separate Operational Retreat where the strategic focus areas would be operationalized into measurable outcomes for strategic planning. This was about 4 hours worth of work for the library (and several more hours for the consultant to transcribe the information and put it into a plan for the director to look at before the operational retreat).

    This is just one way to do it, and not every strategic planning retreat is the same because every library is a little different. I’m excited to attend an operational retreat in a few weeks for a different library to see how that goes.

    You’ll notice we actually swapped opportunities and aspirations (even though SAOR doesn’t roll off the tongue …), and we used other tools like the Harwood Institute Ask Tool and Affinity Mapping. Some of my coworkers also have training in the World Cafe method, so that gets used sometimes. One of the things that I really like about AI is the way that we can use it in so many ways, with so many other tools, to do what is needed. It’s really flexible. And if you’re open to learning and trying new things it will continue to evolve as you learn more about how the process works (or so my coworkers tell me).