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A Process Consulting Approach to Strategic Planning

Posted by Lon Swartzentruber on August 14, 2018

As you know from last month’s post on understanding process consulting,  a process consultant explores a series of open-ended questions with a client to help them more clearly understand the situation that needs to be addressed.   

So, how might this approach develop a strategic planning process that transforms an organization? Let’s explore an example.


LS August blog post imageA few years ago, I received a call from a leader of a faith-based organization in a large city on the east coast. She learned of my experience in fundraising and organizational change through a mutual friend. She shared with me that she wanted to raise money for a new building and was curious if I could help. As our conversation unfolded, something emerged—Questions. And they were questions that she didn’t anticipate or fully know how to answer.

  • How might the organization transform through the campaign?
  • How could the organization’s constituency engage and be a part of this transformation?

These questions caught her attention and sparked an interest that she had had for a long time.

As we began our work together, her natural inclination to engage the organization’s local community, clients, staff, and donors came front and center.

We created a strategic planning process that engaged each of these groups in a thought-provoking process. We led by posing questions to them about the future of the organization. Our questions were designed to tap into their hopes, aspirations, and desires to see the organization flourish.

Over the next several months a strategic plan developed that cast a bold vision for the future. Not only did it include a call for a new building (which was significantly different than what was originally conceived), it also included:

  • Programmatic redesign
  • Plans for community engagement
  • Professional development for staff
  • Strategies to transform board governance

Through a posture of listening, this vision emerged from the organization’s leaders.

As a process consultant, my role was simply to walk alongside them, holding that process in trust and helping them continue to engage.


Process consulting is anything but a cookie cutter approach. We don’t start with a binder, a series of steps to follow, or product to sell. We lead with curiosity. What’s possible? What are the barriers? What work should you be doing? How will we get there?


If you’re eager to learn more and want to explore how process consulting can help you and your organization, I’d love to have a conversation with you. Please reach me at (877) 771-3330, ext. 15 or submit your information here (reference this blog post or process consulting in the message area).

Topics: strategic planning, nonprofit