Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Rick Presbrey's Editorial: Strategic Planning

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Sep 23, 2014 @ 09:18 AM

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The title of this month’s “editorial” is not exactly eye catching! But the subject matter can be interesting and I will try to make it so.

Every five years we embark on an effort to create a new strategic plan. The purpose of the plan is to rethink the way we do things so that we can hopefully do things better.

In carrying out a strategic planning process we usually hire a facilitator, conduct focus group discussions, and interview perhaps 20 people including staff, board members, donors and others in the community who are either interested in the work we do or in some way have a connection to what we do.

This year we have begun talking to four possible facilitators: two men, two women; two from off Cape and two from on Cape, with a plan to begin the approximately six month process in October. In our discussions with candidates, two board members and myself have identified five areas of possible focus.

First, succession planning. Of our six senior managers several will likely be retiring during the next strategic planning cycle including myself. Two problems are obvious: when a founder has been with an organization for 40 years (me) there is bound to be turmoil when the new person comes in no matter how good he or she may be. Second, with senior managers that have more than 100 years of combined experience with HAC retiring, we lose a lot of knowledge, expertise, talent and commitment. The possible problems that these issues present have to be anticipated and planned for.

Second, sustainability. Can HAC continue to do the work it does using the present financial model? Our largest source of income is public grants. Many of these grants do not increase to cover annual costs and some may even disappear altogether. We also receive foundation grants, charitable gifts, and some enterprise earnings. What should the balance of those four sources of revenue be going forward? Should we seek to increase enterprise earnings for example? And, if so, should those enterprises always be directly connected to our mission?

Third, changing needs in our community. The Cape is aging and losing many in their 20’s and 30’s. Our main focus in the past has been serving the poorest of the poor, but increasingly we see many with moderate incomes who cannot find housing that they can afford. Do we focus more on that population as well?

Fourth, increasing board involvement. Often with a long-time managing executive, boards tend to hand over more responsibility to the senior executive partly because they have learned to trust what he or she can do and how they do it. With new senior managers taking over in the next few years the board cannot allow itself to feel so confident. That requires more time and more involvement.

Fifth, new approaches. HAC has served about 10,000 people each year and about 160,000 during our 40 years of operation. We have done a good job, but many things still need to be improved. We must find better ways to do what we are now doing, and new directions and approaches that make us even more effective. Should we do more housing analysis and regional planning? Should we even consider doing things outside of housing?

If you have made it this far you might want to think about what you have just read and send in your thoughts to me at rpresbrey@haconcapecod.com Thanks.

Tags: HAC, Rick Presbrey, strategic planning