Creating an Adaptive Plan: How It Works

Confidently navigate uncertainty with an adaptive strategic plan

Will your organization’s strategy get you through the uncertainty that lies ahead?

What You'll Do in the Program

Creating an Adaptive Plan Curriculum

Step 1: Agree on your 2-year vision

Individual learning and reflection: To prepare for the team discussion, you will learn about the concept of a two-year vision for your organization and the impact you will work toward, and review examples from other organizations. You will also consider ways to center equity and anti-racism in your goals. Then you will individually draft your two-year vision and share it with your peers on your leadership team.

Leadership team discussion: As a team, you will agree on a draft of your organization’s two-year vision that takes into account both your goals for impact two years from now, and how your organization will need to operate to achieve that impact in two years. You’ll also think together about how to center issues of equity in your vision. Finally, you’ll identify critical stakeholders you want to engage for early input.

Want to Learn More?

Who: Nonprofit leadership teams

Format: Online with structured team discussions and coaching support

Price per team: $15,000
(scholarships available)

Next session: JANUARY 2024; Deadline to enroll in the Spring cohorts has passed.

Click to Get Started >>

Step 2: Agree on priorities

Individual learning and reflection: To prepare for the leadership team discussion, consider your team’s vision and reflect on what major priorities will be required to achieve it. You’ll consider areas of meaningfully different work, as well as areas of new work you might pursue. You’ll nominate priorities for your team to discuss during your leadership team discussion.

Leadership team discussion: As a team you will identify a set of critical priorities that your organization disproportionately needs to focus on in order to achieve your two-year vision, with a focus on areas of work that need to change meaningfully, or areas of new work you need to pursue. Within that list, you’ll also elevate two to three priorities that will be your team’s focus through the remainder of the program.

Coaching session: You’ll meet with a Bridgespan coach to discuss your draft destination and priorities.

Step 3: Tackle your biggest hurdles

Individual learning and reflection: To prepare for the leadership team discussion, each member of the team will be assigned one of your two to three priorities to work on individually or with a partner. You will learn about how to think about hurdles you may face with your assigned priority and ways to tackle those hurdles through action and experimentation. You’ll also draft a set of potential hurdles and proposed actions to take in the next six months.

Leadership team discussion: As a team, you will discuss each of the priorities you picked to focus on. For each priority, you’ll discuss and refine your thinking about the biggest hurdles you might face with this priority and how you’ll take action to make progress in the next six months.

Step 4: Develop an action plan

Individual learning and reflection: To prepare for the leadership team discussion, you will review and refine drafts for the priority you were assigned. You’ll learn about “early signals” to watch for to know if you’ll need to change course, while brainstorming ideas for alternative “plan b” options you may need to pursue. You’ll also plan to gather additional input from key stakeholders.

Leadership team discussion: As a team, you will review the refined drafts for each of your two to three priorities, discussing potential “plan b” paths you may need to take depending on what changes surface in the next 6 months. You’ll work together to discuss how to best embed your planning work in your organization. And you’ll make a plan to revisit your work over time to monitor progress and refresh your plans.

Coaching session: You’ll meet with a Bridgespan coach to discuss your finalized plans for your priorities and how best to turn this work into action.

How Your Team Will Engage In This Work

All members of your executive team will have key roles to play in this process:


  • Be team champion and cheerleader
  • Bring important content into team discussions
  • Model participation and engagement

Project lead

  • Act as team facilitator and “guide”
  • Plan key logistical details (scheduling, meeting location, prepare materials before team discussions, as necessary)
  • Surface and troubleshoot issues with the CEO/ED or Bridgespan

Team members

  • Complete individual modules and all pre-work
  • Attend and actively engage in team discussions
  • Wear both individual/department “hat” and leadership team “hat”

Additional Information

Return to the main Creating an Adaptive Plan page

Learn more about our other Bridgespan Leadership Accelerator programs

Download an overview of the program to share with your team

Reach out to us at [email protected] for more information

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