ESMMSC Board and Staff Create New Strategic Plan

Every three years or so, organization leaders gather with their staff and usually an expert to improve their current strategic plan and to reimagine their scope of work. That’s exactly what Eat Smart Move More South Carolina (ESMMSC) did recently with Patrick Jinks of The Jinks Perspective.

“A strategic plan is not like those cooking gadget infomercials where you set it and forget it. It’s a working document that can change as your organization encounters change,” says Jinks. “Strategic plans set the tone for an organization’s work and provide guidance throughout the three-year scope of work.”

Strategic planning can be an opportunity to reimagine an organization’s work and direction. Jinks added, “Strategy is not an event. It is an ongoing, moving, fluid process. It actually never ends. Periodically, an organization will pause to re-clarify its direction, based on today, and framed for tomorrow. Then it’s back to managing the moving parts.”

The strategic planning process took longer than expected, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. But, with the help of technology, Jenks met with ESMMSC board members and staff to understand everyone’s perspectives on the organization and its work. Oftentimes, organizations want to use a professional with a background and knowledge of their field of work, however, engaging with someone not in the field can provide a new perspective for both parties.

“In my eight years of working at Eat Smart Move More South Carolina, I don’t remember us working with a strategic planning professional, so that was welcoming, but at the same time, it was a challenging experience,” says Trimease K. Carter, youth engagement manager. “Patrick made us think hard about everything in the strategic plan — why we wanted to change direction on some things, what is the correct way to word an idea, how do we implement what we’ve come up with, is it realistic.”

After several months of virtual meetings, deep thought, reflection, and a lot of brainstorming, a new strategic plan came to fruition and a new direction was set with an improved mission: We provide communities with proven and sustainable approaches that lead to increased access to healthy choices for all people.

During ESMMSC’s strategic planning process, communities across the country were responding to social injustices and the staff was reminded about the importance of being intentional in addressing equity within communities and within the organization itself. Staff came up with five strategic intentions in which they all address diversity, equity, or inclusion for everyone.

The three-year strategy is to:

  1. Integrate our core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion with a focus on racial equity throughout the entire organization.
  2. Strengthen and focus our advocacy efforts to align all levels on the equity component of our work.
  3. Scale The Healthy Young People Empowerment (HYPE) Project for mission impact in and beyond South Carolina.
  4. Foster statewide collective success with diverse stakeholders.
  5. Re-imagine a cohesive brand and messaging framework.

“With the help of Patrick, we developed a strategic plan that focuses on our core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” says Meg Stanley, executive director of ESMMSC. “We tend to overlook these values because we get stuck in ruts or we assume our chapters and partners understand that diversity, equity, and inclusion are core components of our work. So, by intentionally including this in our strategic plan, we are creating accountability for our staff and ensuring these values become a forethought and not an afterthought.”

Stanley added, “We hope our chapters and partners appreciate the hard work put into this new plan and understand the direction in which we want to go. We can only see this as a win-win for the residents of South Carolina.”

Download ESMMSC’s 2021-2023 Strategic Plan.