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News — 10 April, 2018

Update on HOT’s Strategic Planning Process

Given the short-term nature of humanitarian funding and project-centered work, HOT has historically operated under relatively short-term, often one or two year planning cycles. The most recent strategic plan concluded in 2015. In 2016 and 2017, we produced annual staff workplans that were approved by HOT’s Board of Directors.

As HOT continues to grow (community, funding, and impact), the HOT 2017-18 Board of Directors suggested HOT undergo a strategic planning process with a longer-term outlook. This would take the form of a structured process, facilitated by the ED and Board but where contents of the plan would be determined collectively with the HOT voting membership and key representatives of the broader community. The goal: produce a working, flexible plan that we can all refer to for guidance, but that would not dictate the global community’s activities through 2020 and beyond.

HOT’s Board of Directors met in a face to face meeting on the sidelines of the 2017 HOT Summit in Ottawa, Canada. During this meeting, facilitators from Accenture led the board through a series of exercises designed to generate ideas and build a foundation for starting work on the plan.

HOT’s 2017-18 Board of Directors in Ottawa, Canada

In December 2017, HOT’s senior management met at HOT’s Washington, D.C. OpenGov Hub office to further refine ideas and work on moving from ideas to action. HOT’s country management from five countries came together in Kampala in February to discuss on-the-ground mapping projects. The outputs from these meetings have been merged into a general framework. This framework will be shared with the HOT voting membership in early April. It is a starting point for discussion which we expect to change, be refined, and be supplemented with additional material from the community.

From L-R: One of many whiteboarding sessions at OpenGov Hub; HOT management at OpenGov Hub December 2017; HOT field programs management in Kampala Feb. 2017;

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Our aim is for this Strategic Plan is to represent the collective vision of three core stakeholder groups: HOT’s voting members, Board, and staff team. Input from partner organizations is also highly valued and will be incorporated into the plan via 1:1 consultations.

What’s a strategic plan, and why do we need one?

Strategic planning, generally speaking, is a process through which an organization sets its general direction and specific goals, actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizes resources (people, money) to execute on those actions. Some of the common (and valid) critiques of the process are that it is often carried out “in the boardroom” away from realities on the ground. HOT has another challenge: we are not a single organization, but a global community of people and organizations working together toward a common mission. For this reason, it’s even more important that we talk openly about our vision. As things have changed significantly since the early days of HOT in 2010, it’s also time to have a fresh look at external factors in the technology and humanitarian ecosystems that affect us.

Is this for HOT the NGO, or HOT the community?

Our goal through this process is to build consensus around a vision for WHAT we aim to achieve as a global community. The process of discussion is equally important as the outcome of that discussion. We aim to dream big - thinking about what positive change we want to effect in the world over the next three years, but NOT come up with every detail about HOW we’ll do it. Because HOT is a big global community of individuals and organizations, we want to align ourselves around the big picture goals, priorities for action, and financial resources we’ll need to work towards them. The implementation (some call it the “HOW”) will be flexible, as each contributing community and individual will decide for themselves how best to contribute to the overall mission and vision. In summary, we want the resulting plan to be flexible and adaptable to realities in each location. It should be something that we can all stand behind even if we don’t agree with every point, because we are all contributing to the process of developing it.

How are we going to do it?

We’ll work together in two phases. In Phase I, we’ll co-create the plan. Draft priorities have been collected from the Board and staff teams. In this phase, we want to focus on big-picture goals and priority actions toward achieving them, but we don’t need to define all the details of “how”. A temporary working group will facilitate discussion among voting members. Participation in working group meetings isn’t required, but may be helpful to review certain points. The working group lead/co-leads will consolidate feedback during the month of April.

Timeline:

Phase I: Strategy co-creation (The “What”)

September 2017: Board meeting

December 2017: Staff management meeting

February 2017: Country office/field management meeting

March 2018: Create draft framework

April 4 - May 1: Voting membership working group and discussion period

May: Working group finalizes input to the plan

May: Publication of plan at Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Phase II: Strategy implementation/monitoring (The “How”)

April - September 2018: Work with a monitoring and evaluation consultant to help us build a framework and indicators to monitor our progress on the plan

May-June: Define implementation details and adjust HOT (NGO) programs to align with plan

June-Onward: Monitor, check-in and report back