"The Process is the Work" Reframing Strategy with Tony Richardson and Lisa Fisher

Featured Image with Title: The Process is the Work. Reframing strategy with Tony Richardson and Lisa Fisher. Tony and Lisa's headshots are on the left side.
August 13, 2021

Often when we think about strategic planning there’s a linear nature to it. One tied to activities that lead to tangible outcomes and results. The what of the work. But what happens when we focus on what’s behind the scenes? What happens when we focus on the people engaging in the work and the heart that’s driving the work?

To help us think about these questions, we sat down with the dream duo that is Tony Richardson, Executive Director of the Nord Family Foundation and Senior Advisor, Lisa Fisher – who are working together on the foundation’s strategic planning. We begin by exploring what it means to take a heart-centered approach to our work, the challenges and opportunities that it presents and the conditions necessary to create an environment that invites not only the mind but also the heart into the work. We explore why we as humans tend to default to certain work styles and expectations and offer a reframing of what strategy is all about.

Screenshot image of Zoom video screen with Lisa, Tony and Aya.
Above: Zoom call with Lisa (left) and Tony (right)


Thank you, Tony and Lisa, for sharing your perspectives with us.

What does taking a heart-centered approach to strategic planning mean to you?


It sounds like strategic planning is more of a time to get in touch with your organization to reflect and let that lead you to whatever might be next. 

Let’s dive into the perceptions of heart-centered strategy more. Why don’t more organizations take a heart-centered approach and what happens when they don’t?


Image: Crossing the Threshold: Stepping in the Field of the Future.
Above: Theory U Image (Source: https://www.ottoscharmer.com/theoryu )


What kind of conditions have been helpful to creating this environment where people can show up and participate with both their heart and mind?


Did this leadership style – leading people, valuing time to process over jumping to outcomes, and modeling vulnerability – come naturally to you or is it something that you developed over time?


Switching gears, what makes this process unique or different for family foundations?


It sounds like a lot of decentering ourselves so that we can ultimately center community.

Why do you feel like as humans, we need permission to value the things we do? And maybe it's particular to a business setting.  

Let's dive deeper into the idea of making the implicit explicit. 

The process is the work. And that’s hard to measure sometimes, especially when we often equate concrete outputs to productivity.

And that’s when you don’t even need a document right? The strategy becomes ingrained in your organization.


Learn more about the Nord Family Foundation here.

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