AORE'S NEW STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK: A DEEP DIVE INTO THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
AORE Board Report: Our Commitment to the Association's Growth and Sustainability
Written By: Bryan Karban (AORE Board Member and Strategic Planning Task Force Lead)
Hello AORE Community,
In 2018, the Board partnered with La Piana Consulting to help our Association strengthen its sense of identity and priorities with the goal of advancing AORE's growth, sustainability, and overall capacity to support its members. Through our partnership, we also identified four core audiences that we want to serve: college/university, military MWR, non-profit educators, and for-profit educators. The Board determined association governance as a key area of focus as well. This significant planning effort has led to a more intentional approach to our work, which in turn, has added immense value to AORE's members. I am excited to share what we've learned and highlight some of the major outcomes of this important endeavor through the update I've created below.
What is Strategic Planning?
Strategic planning is an ongoing process that helps an organization to remain goal-oriented, proactive and adaptable, efficient, and in a sustainable growth mindset. If an organization has no idea where it is headed, then it will wander aimlessly without priorities, changing direction constantly, and ultimately missing out on opportunities for making a lasting and meaningful impact with the people it serves. AORE's Board is committed to strategic planning for this reason, knowing that the process will ensure AORE's success in the long-term.
AORE's Strategic Planning Process
AORE Identity Statement
- November 2017: The Board discussed AORE's strategic planning timeline and committed to begin work in 2018.
- April 2018: A RFP was sent out looking for consultants to facilitate AORE's strategic planning at the mid-year Board Retreat. The Strategic Planning Task Force (SPTF) was then created and approved by the Board. La Piana Consulting was contracted to lead the planning process.
- May 2018: La Piana met with the SPTF and Executive Team to gather information, seek clarity, and build an agenda for the mid-year meeting.
- June 2018: The Board held its mid-year meeting and went through the strategic planning process with La Piana and concluded with an initial agreement on organizational strategy in place. We discussed the following areas of focus during our time together:
- Organizational Identity
- Desired Future Impact
- Business Model
- Competitive Advantage
- Market Analysis
- Market Trends
- Competitor Analysis
- Organizational Strategy
- Refined Strategic Filters
- Defined Strategic Question: What role should AORE fill in the outdoor industry?
- Board Development and Governance: Updates to bylaws
- July - August 2018: We tested the organizational strategies that were developed at the mid-year meeting with a wide range of individuals to assess whether we got it right. Some of the people we spoke to included:
- Former Board Members
- Former Board Presidents
- Committee Chairs
- Committee Members
- General Members
- Vendor Members
- Individuals in the greater outdoor industry
- October 2018: We confirmed the validity of our strategic direction and worked to clarify AORE’s vision as a whole.
- June 2018: The Board drafted an identity statement and defined four strategic anchors to guide AORE's work.
- July – September 2018: We conduced numerous stakeholder interviews with the help of La Piana.
- October 2018: We reviewed stakeholder feedback, clarified the Identity Statement, and reaffirmed AORE's strategic filters.
- November 2018: The SPTF drafted proposed final Identity Statement. AORE's executive team then reviewed the document and provided input.
- December 2018: The Board reviewed the proposed Identity Statement as a team and contributed feedback.
- February 2019: The Board votes to approve the Identity Statement on February 21, 2019.
- April 2019: AORE's Board begins clarifying the strategic anchors.
- May 2019: The Board meets to further define and clarify strategic anchors and then tasks AORE's Executive Director and staff to define focus areas and an operational plan that they can successfully execute.
- June 2019: The Board approves AORE's new Strategic Plan (2020-2025).
Approved by Board of Directors on February 21, 2019
Advocacy: AORE leverages its national influence to advocate for critical issues impacting membership and ensures that current and aspiring professionals are informed on the latest industry news, research, best practices, and funding opportunities with the goal of advancing the field of outdoor recreation and education as a whole.
- Enhance AORE’s ability to fulfill our mission and achieve our vision in a manger consistent with our values
- Leverage our competitive advantage(s) or create a new one
- Leverage our existing capacity (financial, staff, volunteers, partners) and/or secure or build additional capacity
- Position AORE for growth and sustainability, while diversifying/strengthening our revenue base
- Demonstrate measurable outcomes
- Position AORE to take advantage of future opportunities and/or emerging trends
Networking: AORE offers opportunities for members to engage and form authentic relationships in a variety of settings that are inclusive and accessible in order to grow a thriving, supportive community of diverse voices that will help enrich the field of outdoor recreation and education.
Professional Development: AORE connects members to high quality programs, tools, trainings, and certification opportunities in a wide range of learning formats, ensuring that current and aspiring professionals have access to the education and resources they need to be relevant in their current job and achieve their goals.
Career Advancement: AORE provides a nurturing space for members to ask career questions and access the tools, education, and support needed to choose a focus area, navigate the job market, advance within the profession, and find the right environment that will allow them to flourish and become their best selves.
The AORE views strategic governance through the following model:
AORE's Board of Directors is responsible for the organizational level of the Strategy Pyramid. The Executive Director and AORE's staff are responsible for the programmatic and operational levels of the Strategy Pyramid. Additionally, the Board exercises oversight through the process of reviewing and approving the AORE’s annual operating budget, which is developed by the Executive Director.
In closing, I'd like to take the time to thank all of our AORE members, volunteers, and partners for participating in our strategic planning endeavor. I am proud of what we are building together. This roadmap for success will allow us to mitigate risk and be proactive rather than reactive, outlining a clearly articulated vision for what we want to achieve as an association---both for our members and for the larger industry of outdoor recreation and education.
- AORE will continue to serve the membership with high quality programs, services, and products
- AORE will broaden its impact on the industry and create more opportunities for current and future members
- AORE will use its financial and talent resources in a sustainable and focused manner to yield positive outcomes
- AORE will be more strategically nimble to adapt to changing circumstances and opportunities that define the current context
I urge you to read the new Board Chair Update from Kellie Gerbers, which provides her personal perspective on these exciting changes and our growth as an association overall. And please don't hesitate to reach out to us with questions, should you have them.
I will see you at the AORE-AEE Joint Conference in Spokane this November!
AORE Board Member
Lead, Strategic Planning Task Force