A Feminist Approach to Strategic Planning

In June of 1993, following my studies at Mundelein College in Chicago, IL, during which I received my introduction to the feminist agenda, I used that agenda to create what I call “A Feminist Approach to Strategic Planning.”

It all happened one morning, literally as I was brushing my teeth. While doing so, I started thinking about working with the staff of an organization I wanted to help. In my mind I began imagining myself leading a discussion on how to improve their publications.  I walked through the steps of the process, the first of which was to ask, “What are our underlying assumptions?”

As I acted out the whole process in my mind, I suddenly realized that I should write it down because it was a good process. Then I began to think, “I really could do this! I could become a consultant on this!” I realized for the first time that I knew a lot now about feminist process, and that I was ready to go out and do it with others.  I eventually did, and hope the organizations I assisted were helped in some way by the intervention.

Here, then, is the outline of the process as it eventually  emerged for me (To download a PDF version, click the link here, A Feminist Approach to Strategic Planning):

A Feminist Approach to Strategic Planning


  1. Inclusive Participation

Who is included? (The planning process should include everyone who must take ownership of the decisions made: those who will implement the decisions and those who will be affected by the consequences of the decisions.)

  1. Experience

What is the story of our experience as individuals in relationship with the organization? How do we understand our experiences? What seems to be behind the best and worst of our experiences? Are there any commonalities in our different experiences?

  1. Creativity

What is our vision/creation story? How does it connect with our experience? Where is the locus of our creative energy? How can we tap that creative energy?

  1. Assumptions

What are the underlying assumptions present in what we are doing (including our mission statement)? What are the realities we are attempting to address? Include values. (Check assumptions for clarity and accuracy).

  1. Needs

What needs are we trying to meet by our activities?

  1. Alternatives / Options

Are there other alternatives or options we could use to achieve our goal?

  1. Choices

What choices do we have? What seems realistic? Visionary?

  1. Consequences

What are the consequences of our choices? (Includes who implements and who is affected; financial considerations.)

  1. Actions

What actions can we take now? Later?

  1. Supports

What supports do we have? Possible partners?

  1. Communication

What is the flow of communication? (Who talks? Who listens?)

  1. Evaluation

How will we evaluate our decisions? Sources of feedback?