How does a diverse community come together to create a single vision of the future?


After more than 15 years of operation, touching every part of the digital economy, a global non-profit found itself in need of a robust organizational strategy. Inextricably linked with the growth of the Internet, they were keenly aware of how rapidly the digital, political, economic, and social landscapes were shifting. As a non-profit with just a few hundred staff but thousands of stakeholders around the world, they also faced unique challenges gathering input and building consensus. Despite these challenges, they realized it was time to update their strategic planning process, to start creating coherent visions of how the organization needed to evolve, rather than just operational plans.

The client, having already worked closely with XPLANE through a leadership transition, contacted us to collaborate on a true five-year strategic plan that would help them anticipate and prepare for coming change. To open the engagement, the XPLANE team created a short animation to introduce the planning process to the broader community and invite their participation; we then held a two-day workshop with the board of directors to frame the conversation.

The client’s unique multi-stakeholder culture made XPLANE’s collaborative process especially effective. As a non-profit representing the concerns of thousands, they had to respond to a diverse set of perspectives. To understand and incorporate them, the XPLANE team designed a community engagement program to collect hundreds of points of input over the next 18 months on the organization’s goals and next steps. Working closely with both the board and the executive team, XPLANE synthesized these findings and used them as the basis for a long-term strategy that expressed the collective vision of the entire community. The end result was not just a detailed strategic plan but a suite of visual tools, including posters, presentations, and interactive PDFs, to communicate it to the global community and activate it within the organization.

“XPLANE did an outstanding job of helping us take a new and much more inclusive, engaging approach to strategic planning, and they were adept at understanding our unique (non-profit type) challenges. Their creative, visual approach to brainstorming and alignment building was especially effective in engaging a large cross-section of people, organizations, companies and governments. In the end, our planning process was called out by both governmental and nongovernmental bodies as an example of effective multi-stakeholder strategic planning.”