Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Update: A Useful Thought Experiment

It's been a bit quiet on the blog lately--my apologies (this is Jeff writing).  The Strategic Planning Committee have been busy beavers, but our work hasn't exactly been easy to summarize.  We're in that soup of confusion that contains a few meaty chunks of insight--and we've been trying to sort it all out.

Our work has centered on trying to identify the major issues KCC needs to address in the next 3-5 years.  It's a process of sifting and sorting and--painfully--choosing.  Those of you who were at the SWOT meeting know that the Sangha identified dozens of potential opportunities for us to pursue, from securing a new urban center to setting up hospice care.  The SPC has to take that huge pool of suggestions (plus even more we came up with), sort them into categories, and see what needs immediate attention.  We've been meeting as a group on our regular Monday night sessions (see schedule in the left-hand column) and also in smaller groups to continue chewing on these issues.

Things are beginning to come ever so slowly into focus.  At a smaller group meeting this Sunday, we dug into one issue very deeply--a new urban center.  We tried a thought experiment where we looked forward 50 years to see what that facility looked like and how it complemented SCOL.  Our idea was that this might help shed light on some of the other issues we've been considering, like the finances and fundraising, teacher support and succession, and the menu of programs.  It worked!

By building SCOL, KCC has embraced an ambitious vision that will require quite a bit of financial and volunteer/staff support in coming years.  How would an urban center help provide that?  How would the urban center interact functionally with the retreat center at SCOL?  Would it make sense to have an urban center that had residential space for people coming in and out of retreat or for people who want to have a quasi-monastic live/volunteer arrangement at an urban center?  Could we keep the current house at 73 NE Monroe as residential space and get a small meeting hall with offices elsewhere? 

The thought experiment led us in the direction of having a residential component.  It also awakened our awareness of the sharp increase we'll have in expenses, as SCOL and a new urban center come with attached costs.  Of course, it also opens the possibility of a much more integrated fabric of programs, which is the exciting part--and the reason we began this project in the first place.

I invite you to try out the thought experiment yourself.  The year is 2062, and KCC is a wonderful, self-sustaining center with an urban and retreat site.  What do those facilities look like to you?  What programs and retreats are happening?  How does the center pay for itself?  How big is the community? Where do teachers come from?  Allow yourself to think of all the possibilities--a monastery, hospice, school, whatever makes the vision sing to you.  What's your vision?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Other Models of Strategic Planning

The Strategic Planning Committee is fairly far down the road to be considering which model of planning to adopt (more on that with an update post tomorrow), but Peter Wood found a nice resource that includes several different approaches.

It's a pretty quick read, and useful.  We seem to be following the standard approach (number 1, "Goals-based strategic planning") with leavening from approaches two ("issues-based planning") and five ("organic or self-organizing planning"). 

Have a look.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Meeting Notes for January 23

See below.

Meeting Notes - January 23, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Taking Stock and Looking Ahead

Below is a document Bill Spangle prepared for the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC).  Bill and Dora will be doing retreat most of the month of February at SCOL's winter retreat and they won't be able to attend the next two meetings.  In it, Bill outlines in very clear terms KCC's current position, the situation of the planning process, and the next steps we confront.  The SPC hasn't had a chance to discuss it formally in a meeting yet, but there was quite a bit of enthusiasm about putting this out in front of the whole Sangha as soon as possible. 

We want members of the Sangha to have the opportunity to comment on and influence this process while it's happening.  As you'll see, Bill has already incorporated SWOT results into his analysis.  It is a very useful document--easily worth the 5-10 minutes it will take to read and digest.  If you have feedback, please use the comments section below.  


These are some ideas to get thinking started for the strategic plan goals and preparation for the Leadership retreat. There are three parts:
  • A review of progress since the last vision statement.
  • A summary of current situation based largely on the SWOT process.
  • Some thoughts on the next steps leading up to the leadership retreat and the focus groups.

A Review
Ready for action.
At the time the Vision statement was drafted many of the items in the vision were in fact just ideas, shared visions of the future. In the 13 years that have passed, many of the elements of the vision have come to life in some way. The sparely stated intention to create a retreat facility has manifested in the acquisition and development of 7000 square feet of facilities at Ser Chö Ösel Ling and we now stand on the verge of beginning long retreats. To meet the growing needs of the sangha there are now 4 teachers at KCC, the Mahamudra program is in its 16th year at KCC, and the programs of instruction and retreats have expanded significantly. But some elements of the vision have only partly been implemented and others, most notably the vision for a new urban center, are still just ideas.

While the accomplishments are by themselves substantial, it is important to note that what the community did to accomplish these things has itself been transformative. The process of acquiring, planning and building the facilities at Ser Chö Ösel Ling has pushed both the organization and individuals to develop new skills and abilities and working relationships. Retreats, land stewardship activities and the task of managing Ser Chö Ösel Ling have had a significant impact as well. In the area of pastoral care, members of the community have risen to the challenges of supporting each other through birth, old age, sickness, and death. Families have come together for mutual support. Long time members have deepened their practice, and a new stream of younger people have become associated with KCC. It is clear that the community itself has matured and evolved along the way.

Current resources and challenges
Based on this review of the recent history and the sense of the current situation derived from the SWOT process it is possible to put together a sense of the resources and challenges KCC now faces.