Lumen Impact Group
Lumen Impact Group

Strategic Planning: A Roadmap for When the Going Gets Tough

Published: April 9, 2024

The old saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” This timeless phrase has encouraged sports teams, workers, and everyday folks facing seemingly impossible conditions. Dory in Finding Nemo has a similar proverb to live by: “Just keep swimming!” But how? And where? It seems that when people or organizations get bogged down in the day to day functions of work, a family, or even their own life, they revert to putting one foot in front of the other. But is it enough? At some point, we have to take the time to look up and think about the road ahead. Where are we going and how are we going to get there?

Some of the most important work that Lumen Impact Group does with schools and organizations is strategic planning. For organizations that feel like they can’t squeeze any more into a day or month, the idea of any kind of long term planning can feel arduous and impractical. How can you look ahead when getting from Monday to Friday feels like a marathon? At Lumen we know that the long term payoff is exponential.

Stop and Check the Mirror

How about this: when the going gets tough, take a beat and check the mirror. What is it about slowing down and taking a long hard look in the mirror that is so difficult? Taking stock of the current landscape, the mindsets of those inside and outside of an organization, the whys behind challenges, and the assets to build from requires time, energy, and a willingness to talk about real challenges. But it’s a worthwhile investment and an important part of thoughtful and meaningful strategic planning. An organization can just move forward and create a plan, but at Lumen we believe the best plans are built on a shared understanding of the current state populated by a diverse set of stakeholder voices and the whys behind challenges and opportunities that people both struggle with and pride themselves on.

Build a Roadmap

How nice would it have been if Dory had a clear and detailed map to help Marlin (Nemo’s Dad) find Nemo? I know, I know, that would mean no movie for us, but how much time and energy could everyone have saved if those characters just knew where they were headed? In some ways, the “just keep swimming” mantra pushed the fish away from each other and made things more difficult as they swam in vain.

At Lumen, our strategic planning process helps organizations envision where they are headed and how they will get there. Not only do we help you create a detailed vision for your future grounded in your organization’s mission, but we also help you set priorities so you know what to focus on to achieve your goals. Additionally, defining and tracking key metrics will help you see if your actions are working and determine when course correction is needed. It is SO easy to get distracted putting out fires and doing the day to day work. But having a roadmap will help you go places that get you where you want to be– a purposeful “get going” that can pay off in the long run.

Set Some Guardrails for Decision Making and Pitfalls

No path is without pitfalls, cliffs, and unexpected turns. At Lumen, we believe a strategic plan is a living document that can and should be changed based on your own needs. No path to success is straightforward, but a strategic plan can help you put guardrails on your path to give you guidance and inform decisions when the unexpected arises. In a way, a strategic plan is a tool that can stabilize, protect, and steady a ship when it’s rocking and remind you of your true north.

We realize that it is HARD to pull yourself out of the day to day work to take the time to see the forest through the trees. It can feel impossible to find the time when there are fires to be put out, but the value of strategic planning is in the future – so when the going gets tough, you know where to go.


"Lisa did a fantastic job with our entire strategic planning team. Her process was beyond organized. As a new administrator, I was able to lean on Lisa for her expertise and knowledge of strategic planning. She did everything from meeting organization and to facilitating subgroups, focus groups and staff culture surveys. Her work with the school board and administrative team was respectful, while also filled with appropriate advice and constructive feedback. I could not imagine going through this process without Lisa. She will continue to be a trusted resource for years to come."
Jamie DeWitt
School Leader, NexTech High School
"Lumen Impact Group has been critical in supporting Bluum’s efforts in Idaho to manage our $17.1 million federal Charter School Program grant. As one of the country’s first non-profit organizations to receive federal CSP funding, the stakes for our work are very high, and our efforts to help open, expand and replicate public charter schools face scrutiny. I sleep better knowing Lumen Impact Group has worked closely with us to build our processes, procedures and playbook for managing the responsibility of directing and overseeing a significant federal grant. I highly recommend them to others. They are true pros."
Terry Ryan
CEO, Bluum
"As a family-owned and operated company, we needed to preserve our culture and define our mission, vision and values better as we grew. Lumen Impact Group helped capture a variety of diverse perspectives and hopes for the future in a way that connected everyone involved. Lumen Impact Group helped us create a clear strategic focus and for our future stabilized our culture. Lisa also coached our leadership team in supporting implementation."
Mark Smith
President, Krapohl Ford & Lincoln
"Lisa Diaz and Lumen Impact provided invaluable support to Colorado Charter Facility Solutions during our start-up phase. I was the new non-profit organization’s executive director (and only employee at the time), and Lisa knew answers to questions that I did not even know to ask. She made sure the board of directors was set up correctly and that the organizational documents were in place. Lisa helped me establish the organization’s goals and ways to track progress. Lisa is organized, patient and kind, and worked quickly, thoroughly and collaboratively. She is a good listener and even acted as an executive coach/therapist at times. When necessary, Lisa can be direct, yet she is always focused on the goals of the organization and its success. I highly recommend Lisa Diaz and Lumen Impact Group. "
Jane Ellis
Executive Director, Colorado Charter Facility Solutions
"I have worked with Lumen Impact Group at both the individual and organizational level. As a coach, Lisa has a natural ability to get to the heart of the matter quickly and to ask questions that help her clients translate insight into action. Each team member who has worked with Lisa in a coaching capacity has demonstrated visible growth that has positively impacted individual and team performance. As an organization, we are trying to be purposeful about the culture we are creating, as a means of best fulfilling our mission. Lumen Impact Group has been a tremendous thought partner along the way and has facilitated critical steps in a collaborative yet efficient and fun way. Our team was in awe at how much we accomplished collectively in a short period of time. We are moving toward our ideal culture much more quickly than I thought possible, and I have no doubt it is because of Lumen Impact Group’s guidance. "
Kasey Miller
Chief of Staff, National Association of Charter School Authorizers