[MUSIC] All right. Let's talk about DE&I strategic planning. Now, when I say we need to have an effective, strategic, diversity, equity and inclusion plan, I am talking about a deliberative approach to weaving the thread of DE&I specific ideas into the fabric of an organization. That fabric should illuminate what the organization is, who it serves, what it does and the DE&I thread should symbolize the stitching that tightly binds it all together. That sounds good. But like I said in my intro, good sounding stuff doesn't always equal practical application stuff. So, let's get practical. First thing I need you to do when you are planning for DE&I, is to identify the need or the problem that you're trying to solve or the fire that you're trying to put out. Is it a problem with recruitment or retention or do you have complaints of discrimination or a crisis on your hands? Once you identify the problem, I want you to isolate it. Cast it into its own box so that your problem is not actually 50 different problems that you're trying to lump into one. Be strategic and target a single problem, so if you successfully address it, you can begin to chip away at the other ones. After you identify and isolate the problem, I want you to answer these questions. Who are we planning for and why are they planning? This is critical because it answers where the pressure is coming from. Is it a crisis? Is it management or the team? Is it marketing? Why are they doing this? No one ever talks about the why, but finding out why people are planning DE&I, really helps to identify four things. One, their motivation. Two, their economic realities, such as their budget. Three, their timeline. And most importantly four, their will to see this effort through to the end. Understanding the why may prevent you from spinning your wheels because there is no real commitment. Once you know why you're planning, you now have some ideas to build your team around. Creating a strategic plan in a silo is a huge mistake, so invite those key stakeholders most impacted by the ideas to join you. Plans that cascade from above feel like they came out of nowhere and feel disingenuous. The best plans include folks on the front lines so that they can feel a sense of ownership over the initiative. So, once you identify the need or the fire, search for your partners, allies and the worker bees that want to see this effort through. Get a well represented cross section of thinkers and doers from various departments and ranks into the circle and chart a course forward. By charting a course, I mean confirm that the DE&I problem in isolation is actually a problem and then brainstorm ways to solve it. To assist you in this effort, It may help to do an inventory or perform an environmental scan that one, identifies any activities that might already be addressing the problem. And two, it takes into account the operational realities facing the team such as the organization's readiness. Many organizations struggle to acknowledge their faults or previous failures, without a candid assessment of these things, you might be setting yourself up for endless loop of misfires, starts and stops, rhetoric filed by an action or eventually you're going to lose your credibility, your team and perhaps you will. Performing an environmental scan helps you map the landscape and locate the traps, especially the well traveled ones to avoid duplication, find synergy and assess how ready your organization really is for DE&I. If you discover that your organization is not ready, I want you to consider that there may be no assured way that you can get them ready. I have wracked my brain thinking about this, but you just can't control for certain variables of sabotage or new distractions popping up or fatigue or all of it. So, the best advice I can give you here, is that once you isolate the problem, create a dialogue loop, a circle of feedback if you will, that captures the concerns, ideas, hopes, and fears of the community about the problem under review. Listen carefully so that you can be responsive to the community, then make sure to connect the DE&I activity with an asset like a skill or ability that addresses the problem. Once you've taken an inventory and performed an environmental scan, you are now ready to define the scope of work and a time frame you have to accomplish it. The scope of a plan is where you identify a set of objectives or define the boundaries of your activities or the goalpost by which your organization can measure success. Helpful tip, make sure that the scope is responsive to the needs of the organization by testing it and sharing it with everyone willing to listen. Solicit feedback and integrate it with the scope. With that done, you now have a better idea of what the time frame or timeline should be. This is critical because mismanaged timelines could really doom an effort. No one wants to collect all of that scanning data then to leave it to die on the shelf. With your objectives in place and a time frame set, you now need to do the work. Oftentimes when we are strategic planning, a team comes together without much thought about who will do what and by when. Be specific, be clear and be sure that whomever you assign to do the work are given the power and resources to do it. Also, if you are not a strong delegator, please task someone who is, be sure to delegate assignments that amount to short targeted doable deliverables. And please don't expect volunteers to do full time work for you, work with them so that they are rewarded for their effort and not putting their other obligations in jeopardy. Then put everything into a shareable document so that they can see who's doing what and by when and yes you have to hold your teammates accountable. Nudge them regularly but support them just the same. Then once the plan comes together, you need to execute it and deliver the initiative. But before you do a large scale rollout, you need to start with a small group of testers that experience the initiative to make sure it does what you plan for it to do. Testers should do their best to spot weaknesses, contradictions, misspelled words or blind spots, you need a critics critique here. Then take all that feedback and make it better tighten it up, add the polish to it by branding it and marketing it everywhere. Message to the community that this initiative is the solution to the problem that they were having. Preemptively answer the question why, why are we doing this? Why is this effort being champion? Then push that button and launch that thing and assess and evaluate whether it pushed through the goal post that you set for yourself. Is this thing working the way we expected, and if not, tweak it accordingly. Last thing, remember to plan to report the results. Whether successful or not, the more you report and communicate, the more you can repeat the why message. At its core, the why is about the community, how DE&I makes it stronger, right, It binds you, right? Remind everyone of that every chance you get. Until next week.