FINE's strategy filter helps focus our work

This past year, the Farm to Institution New England (FINE) staff and Network Advisory Committee completed our strategic plan. Five big goals, lots of indicators and strategies for each. At the encouragement of our management consultant, Jeremy Phillips, we discussed how to make the strategic plan most useful - how to keep it alive - and how not to let it become a shelf sitter! We came up with various ideas, including reviewing the plan at staff and NAC meetings. One idea that we are particularly jazzed about is our "strategy filter". Its designed to help us evaluate the seemingly endless stream of emergent opportunities (e.g., possible grants to apply for, events to attend, projects that partner groups asked us to join) in terms of their alignment with our strategic plan. Essentially, its a rubric with nine criteria relating to key aspects of our work and four grades for each category based on how well the opportunity meets the criteria. For example, one criterion is "help build the FTI network" - a project gets a "0" if it duplicates, confuses or conflicts with work of other partners ... and it gets a "4" if no other partner does the work, and all partners want the work done. We have two broad sections - one relating to the merit of the opportunity, and the other relating to our staff capacity and budget/ funding issues. Check out the FINE strategy filter and a one page summary of our strategic plan on the attached document. Learn more about FINE and follow links to our newsletter, blog and social media platforms via our website at


  • Susan Lightfoot Schempf on 2/14/2018 1:58:39 PM

    This is an AMAZING tool, Peter, thanks so much for sharing! The Wallace Center is interested in developing something similar, as there are so many different opportunities to pursue and needs to fill, but we always need to go back to our mission, vision, values and strategic plan to determine if those opportunities align with our long-term strategy and our core competencies.

    From my perspective as a previous Executive Director of a very small community-based non-profit, I think this tool could be key to avoiding mission drift. I'm curious if something similar could be created to help allocate and maximize limited staff time...I've used the Important/Urgent grid for that, which is helpful, but it doesn't necessarily align with mission and strategy. Thoughts on that?