By Leah Schmidt, SNS, Julia Bauscher, SNS, Jean Ronnei, SNS and Patricia Montague, CAE 2014-06-12 18:53:30
SNA moves closer to the strategic realignment of its goals and resources, following extensive discernment and analysis in the development of a comprehensive new strategic plan. “What a long, strange trip it’s been!” This iconic album title (from The Grateful Dead) seems an appropriate summary of an always fascinating, often exhilarating (and occasionally exhausting) process that we’ve championed in an effort to carry SNA into what are bound to be exciting and challenging years ahead. As revealed in the pages of this magazine back in January, your Association leadership determined that 2013-14 was a critical year to do some hard thinking about whom this organization serves; how we see ourselves; the most important roles SNA can and should play; what we do best and what we could do better; and how to rearrange the puzzle pieces for future success. How should we “realign” the human and fiscal resources of the organization in order to best match our strategic goals? “Hard thinking” was an understatement! Over the course of several large and small group meetings that included SNA’s full Board of Directors, members of the Headquarters senior management team and several other key Association stakeholders, we drilled down and scrutinized every single element of SNA. We looked at all of our programs, services and campaigns; Headquarters infrastructure; governance structure; advocacy approaches and so on. This comprehensive assessment laid the foundation for the development of a brand-new strategic plan, officially approved this spring. Change or Be Changed Why is this the appropriate time for such an ambitious project? Times are changing—and the speed of change seems to rev up every year. Although our last strategic plan was developed in December 2012, already, two and a half years later, we weren’t sure it was still the best reflection of our needs and priorities. In addition, SNA had not reviewed or made any significant changes to its governance structure since the late Nineties. And with evolving changes in technology, regulations, communications and more, we needed to be sure that our programs, services and national staffing are appropriately positioned—not just for today’s needs, but for future growth and success. We also knew that we couldn’t take on such an endeavor—and follow it through successfully— without some outside guidance. SNA turned to Tecker International, LLC, a well-respected association consultant, for their expertise and project management. They helped to develop a timeline, identify key steps, collect feedback, analyze results and ensure that we stayed on track. With an organization of such diversity as characterizes SNA, this was no easy task! Committed to Our Core The assessment of SNA, its members, the Association’s core competencies, the external environment in which both members and the Association operate— all of this information was synthesized toward establishing our core purpose, core values, vision and mission (see box on page 33), as well as a list of areas of focus that would serve as the framework for our new Strategic Plan. We brainstormed a master list, then through the process of prioritization, elimination and combination, arrived at four priorities to serve as the areas to focus our efforts for our stakeholders— the members, the Association itself and the students we all serve. Our new goals focus on: • Education and Professional Development • Advocacy and Public Image • Community • Infrastructure The objectives developed for each goal area are detailed in the boxes throughout this article. In developing these, the team focused on “what we want to have happen with an issue—what would constitute success in observable or measurable terms?” We tried to frame these outcomes using verbs such as “increase,” “decrease,” “expand,” “consolidate” and “enhance.” The next step was to develop actionable strategies that would allow us to achieve our objectives. You can find all the details about the specific strategies we developed online at SchoolNutrition.org. (More information about where to find that information follows at the end of this article.) But let’s take one set as an example. In the box on this page, you will find the five objectives for the Education & Professional Development goal. In developing the strategies to meet those objectives, we set out to describe exactly how the Association will commit its resources to accomplish the objectives. Each strategy indicates an activity, and again, we were mindful about the specificity of such verbs as “refine,” “create,” “implement” and “identify.” Thus, among the 15 strategies we established in this area, SNA will: • Review and evaluate how education and training programs are currently delivered. • Understand and incorporate the principles of adult learning in all SNA training programs. • Survey members to identify priorities and preferred delivery methods for obtaining training and development. • Evaluate SNA staffing needs to create and deliver content. • Explore partnerships for program content development. • Identify funding sources to support education initiatives. And you will find several more strategies for this area in the complete list online! It’s an ambitious set of tasks, but its specificity will help our leaders and staff stay on target throughout the coming year. No Rest for the Weary You can see how the Strategic Plan becomes the cornerstone to direct all future efforts. In the coming months, SNA leaders will be reviewing the Association’s financial and staff resources to ensure that we have the right fit to move forward and successfully meet our identified objectives and strategies. We’ll also be taking a close look at SNA’s governance structure, including the Board, committees and the House of Delegates. Do we have an effective and efficient volunteer leadership structure? Can it be improved? The Board will take this Strategic Plan and review it each year to adjust the objectives as necessary and establish a new set of strategies for the coming months. We anticipate that another deep dive to determine that we are still on course with the basic goal areas will take place every three to five years. We are so proud of the work that everyone involved has dedicated to this effort! It is a genuine testament to the collective will and commitment of the leaders and staff of this organization toward ensuring that SNA’s decision and work processes are positioned for nimble response to current and anticipated opportunities and challenges. We strongly encourage you to stay engaged with this project. You can learn more by visiting www.schoolnutrition.org and clicking on “About SNA” to find the link to the Strategic Realignment page. This section will be kept updated as the project proceeds into its next phases. Things really are falling into place— and the future has never looked brighter for SNA! School Nutrition Association Core Purpose • Well-nourished students prepared for success Core Values • Collaboration, Relationship Building and Teamwork • Caring Commitment and Service • Lifelong Wellness and Healthy Lifestyles • Passion for Lifelong Learning and Professional Development • Integrity and Ethics Vision • Be the authority and resource for school nutrition programs Mission • SNA is the national organization of school nutrition professionals committed to advancing the quality of school meal programs through education and advocacy. STRATEGIC GOAL #1: Education and Professional Development School nutrition professionals will have the necessary knowledge, skills and expertise to administer, manage and deliver healthy school meal programs. Objectives 1. Increase SNA expertise and capacity in professional development programs for adult learners. 2. Increase the availability of training/educational opportunities related to the business of operating school nutrition programs. 3. Increase the availability of resources and opportunities to enable members to meet the new federal professional standards. 4. Increase the value of SNA membership for school nutrition directors and their staff through education and professional development. 5. Increase funding for education and professional development programs. STRATEGIC GOAL #2: Advocacy and Public Image Policymakers, school officials and parents will rely on SNA as the authority for designing and funding school meal programs. Objectives 1. Increase the recognition of school nutrition programs as integral in the education process. 2. Increase policymakers’ understanding of the business of operating school nutrition programs. 3. Increase allocation of financial and staff resources toward advocacy (lobbying and public relations). 4. Increase the number of SNA members trained in advocacy. 5. Increase SNA’s leadership role in the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization. STRATEGIC GOAL #3: Community School nutrition programs nationwide will be strengthened through collaboration with members, state affiliates, industry and allied partners. Objectives 1. Increase School District Owned Memberships and increase membership retention. 2. Increase engagement in each membership segment. 3. Remove barriers to participation in SNA activities by anyone interested in school nutrition. 4. Enhance the SNA and state affiliate partnership to align efforts to achieve SNA strategic goals. 5. Increase strategic collaboration with industry and allied partners. STRATEGIC GOAL #4: Infrastructure SNA will have a financially sustainable funding model with a nimble governance structure and headquarters staff organization that is aligned with the strategic plan and reflects contemporary association business practices. Objectives 1. Increase the effectiveness and efficiency of decision-making and work systems. 2. Increase the synergy of SNA and SNF. 3. Increase the recruitment and development of future SNA leaders. 4. Increase funding and resources to the high priorities of the strategic plan. Leah Schmidt is SNA President, Julia Bauscher is SNA President-Elect, Jean Ronnei is SNA Vice President and Patricia Montague is SNA’s Chief Executive Officer. Photography by EZ Event Photography.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://mydigimag.rrd.com/article/Falling+Into+Place/1735795/213566/article.html.