In our last post on August 7, we shared TimeLine’s commitment to being open, honest, and forthcoming throughout this crisis and beyond. And we revealed our primary goals for the year. Today, we’re sharing more about the how, the why, and the what of our plans.
You might think that TimeLine is most focused on shining light on the past. But we’ve always believed that our exploration of yesterday creates a better understanding of where we are today and a path for reflection on where we might go tomorrow. It’s a concept enshrined in our mission and in our very founding—the story of six friends coming together and each putting money into a hat is a story of collaboration and forethought. That history of cooperative, careful planning—which weaves through our 23 years of existence—is perhaps our greatest asset as we ponder what lies ahead.
We’re in a moment where the heart and soul of our work—bringing people together to experience live productions—is paused due to the pandemic. All we can think about is the future, yet it is difficult to anticipate what that future will look like. There are so many unknowns, and few historic precedents to guide us. But our Company, Staff, and Board are already practiced at what Emergent Strategy author adrienne maree brown calls “strengthening the muscle of looking forward together.” Years of experience in strategic planning, in envisioning the company’s future, and in working together have made that muscle powerful and flexible.
With each iteration, we’ve updated, refined, and adapted, while using the collaborative planning process to dream big, together.
As far back as 2001, TimeLine has believed in the importance of strategic planning to ensure we have a unified vision, shared values, and collectively articulated goals to push the organization forward. Over the years, we’ve developed an uninterrupted series of three-year plans (the first one spanning 2002 – 2005), continually evolving our methods of tackling those plans and executing those visions. With each iteration, we’ve updated, refined, and adapted, while using the collaborative planning process to dream big, together. It’s been a big part of TimeLine’s growth and success, and in 2009 we were proud to be awarded the Richard Goodman Strategic Planning Award in the Non-Profit category from the Association for Strategic Planning.
Throughout most of those years, we have been fortunate to benefit from the guidance and expertise of Sterling Strategies founder and TimeLine Board Member John Sterling. Starting very soon after the pandemic began, John coordinated a collaborative process during which working teams generated structure and ideas and Company, Staff, and Board members engaged in multiple group sessions to share suggestions and feedback as the plan took shape.
The resulting 2020 – 2021 plan is unique. The process of creating it was thorough, but truncated—and virtual! Instead of three years, it focuses on just one. And although every plan has been a product of the current situation in its originating year, this plan was crafted during a summer of summer of extreme and necessary social and political upheaval. TimeLine must respond to our community’s needs, and so our planning deepens previous commitments to anti-racism, inclusion, and accessibility, and focuses in particular on adapting to a new virtual landscape.
Explore the main elements of the plan:
This plan will be our guiding light this year. Its goals and strategies are supported by an extensive list of tactics and activities that will be worked on throughout the season. Every full-time staff member and many Board and Company members are tasked as “champions” of one or more strategies, to ensure accountability. Our bi-weekly staff meetings are structured around discussing and advancing the plan. Collaborative working groups, Google Sheets, and so much more—every tool and resource we can marshal will help fulfill this essential work.
Another resource we have is you—our community. We’d love to hear your responses to this plan and any ideas you’d like considered as we work to fulfill the strategies outlined. Share thoughts in the comments below, or feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll publicly explore aspects of this plan in more detail in the coming weeks and months. Thank you as always for sharing the journey!