How to get a group unstuck – and moving forward together
An unhealthy board. A budget in the red. And absolutely no plan past putting out the fire-of-the-day.
That’s how Melissa Reed describes the state of Prairie Paws Animal Shelter (PPAS) when she took over as Executive Director in 2014. The rural animal shelter, based in Ottawa, Kansas, had outgrown its mom-and-pop style of leadership and needed to regroup on multiple levels. New board. New strategy. New programming.
“We needed to build a common vision out of diverse perspectives. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I knew exactly who to call,” said Reed, who had worked with TeamTech throughout her non-profit career.
For PPAS, the tipping point came after construction of its new facility. A generous donor had agreed to fund the building, but the final cost far exceeded the original pledge. Reed inherited the problem and turned to Kathleen Harnish McKune and her cadre of TeamTech coaches to put the shelter back on track.
Kathleen helped the new Prairie Paws Board of Directors look beyond the daily, tactical issues and build a three-year strategic plan. It was no easy feat, said Reed, since the organization was operating at a loss.
‘Kathleen helped the board see that financial sustainability required strategic planning,” said Reed. “Out of the gate, she built consensus around that as our common goal.”
For Reed, handing her board over to a consultant could have felt uncomfortable, but she’d already experienced TeamTech’s collaborative, inclusive approach to working with leadership.
“Kathleen really listens,” she said. “She recognizes that a board has to be healthy, passionate, excited and driven – not just focused on the day-to-day. TeamTech helped us balance the daily challenges while thinking about the future.”
Getting the group unstuck
In short, TeamTech helped Prairie Paws Animal Shelter break out of the rut of focusing only on the day ahead. Once they began moving forward, PPAS administrators realized they needed to broaden their vision even more by understanding the community’s needs.
TeamTech stepped in again; this time to facilitate community assessment focus groups aimed at starting new programs for PPAS.
“The community assessments gave us key insights that helped us really build out our strategic plan,” said Reed. “Once again, Kathleen was able to make everyone around the table feel heard – and get unstuck. They’re methods are amazing at getting people to see the vision ahead – and focus on what’s important.”
Today, Prairie Paws is no longer operating in the red. The Board is strong and thriving. And, most importantly, everyone’s aligned and moving forward together.
“Honestly,” said Reed, “we couldn’t have done it alone. I needed TeamTech’s help getting there.”