It’s easy for board members to feel they should telescope the board’s strategic horizon when faced with economic turbulence, but at Triangle we believe that such a crisis mandates that our clients stay true to long-term strategic objectives.
While it is tempting to chart the cautious passage through stormy waters, our mission is always to keep our clients on a course that steers them closest to their goals. We faced such a storm when conducting a semi-annual strategic plan for an elementary school that was experiencing an alarming decrease in enrollment. The school had set a path towards expanding and renovating their facilities, in part to maintain relevance with a competitive institution. But a 15% decline in enrollment across all grades had each board member concerned. Objectively, the board was aware that weathering the financial crisis would be a challenge, but emotionally every member was doubtful about pursuing pre-existing plans for physical plant improvements. One vociferous board member stirred emotions by declaring the futility of all long-term strategy in times of financial upheaval, and suddenly the topic of abandoning the building plan was front and center.
We believe that in times of crisis, institutions should double down on strategic plans. Waiting for “better times” only postpones the very improvements needed for long-term success. We persuaded the board to delay elements of their facility improvements instead of abandoning them. By rearranging their short-term priorities, but still staying true to their goals, the school weathered three tough years, and is now in construction on their new buildings.