Earthquake Engineering Research Institute: Finding the Path Forward

Having lost key funding for signature programs in recent years, this hybrid professional membership association and research institute was at a crossroads. The small staff was overwhelmed with too much to do and both board and staff were unclear on how best to allocate their limited resources. The current strategic plan contained a lengthy “wish list” of priorities and no action plan. It had been developed by a previous board chair with a few other board members, but no staff involvement. Senior Associate Regina Neu and I were hired to engage the full board and staff in a process to narrow the strategic priorities into a more manageable set and to create action plans to implement those priorities. The “Strategic Alignment”  project included a survey and key informant interviews to identify shared priorities, a review of several years of financial records, as well as a two-day “strategic alignment retreat.” We led the full board and staff in several exercises to review their history and to reach consensus on their common four priorities and target outcomes and to start developing detailed action plans identifying timelines, quarterly metrics and responsible parties. We coached the board-staff teams working on each top priority, provided helpful templates and guided completion of the action plans.

Long-time EERI board member and Past President David Friedman remarked two years after this project that the work we had done together continued to resonate: “We are still highly focused on the strategic initiatives; three are nearly completed…. [The strategy alignment project] instilled in staff and board a commitment to continuing alignment and always strategizing together on next steps.”