Whenever I receive an invitation to work with an arts organization in my home state (I live and work in Alexandria), it is nearly impossible to turn down. I am so excited about having a new contemporary arts organization close by, that when longtime colleague Johanna Plummer, Curator of Education and Engagement, called to gauge my interest in helping her and Director Lisa Freiman develop a plan for the ICA, I was delighted. Johanna and I have worked together before, so she knows that I use Intentional Planning strategies to facilitate inclusive workshops to co-create an Impact Framework. I am grateful to the ICA’s staff for this amazing opportunity. This summer, the ICA team of talented museum professionals, as well as advisory members, university professors and administrators, and members of the Richmond arts community worked together to begin the process.

Intentional Planning is a contemporary approach to traditional strategic planning. Strategic planning focuses on an organization’s mission statement, which usually includes verbs such as “educate,” “inspire,” and sets out to create actions that the organization will take. Taking this a step further, Intentional Planning focuses on impact—the result of the organization on its audiences. Nearly all arts organizations have mission statements yet few arts organizations have impact statements. The diagram presented here, “The Cycle of Intentional Practice,” is a visualization of the basic theory that supports Intentional Planning work. To what greater end will the ICA staff do its work? All actions that the ICA take should lead to a singular, powerful result as stated in the impact statement: Participants respect the ICA as a public resource and value the transformative power of art and artists.

The ICA’s Impact Framework is a short, concise document that will guide staff in their program planning. The process the staff experienced to create the Framework is as important as the document. Over the course of our work, we debated, discussed, and clarified ideas and eventually reached consensus on what the ICA hopes to achieve among its audiences. In addition to presenting the ICA’s mission and impact, the Impact Framework includes other guiding information—all of which led up to crafting the impact statement. In facilitated workshops, staff, university representatives, and community members explored their personal passions for their work and/or association with the ICA, discussed the Institute’s distinct qualities, identified four potential audiences, and articulated concrete outcomes for these audiences. On the ICA’s Impact Framework, the mission statement is listed first, then followed by the impact statement—the two statements represent two organic beings that will interact with each other over time. The ICA can’t move forward without a clear notion of what it does, and likewise, it needs an impact statement to guide how it will work with audiences.

As the ICA matures and learns about its work (as per “Reflect” on the Cycle of Intentional Practice), the Impact Framework will change, as well it should. What is right today might not be right for tomorrow, and such is life on the Cycle of Intentional Practice. (Note the subtle white arrows around the center circle, “Impact.”) Life on the cycle is exhausting but oh, so rewarding! The ICA’s staff are now planning their work according to the Impact Framework, and when they open later this year, they will be delighted by the contributions they will be making on the quality of people’s lives.

Randi Korn, founding director of Randi Korn & Associates, Inc. (RK&A), has thirty years of experience working with all types of cultural organizations. RK&A is a full-service planning, evaluation, and research firm based in Alexandria, Virginia with an office in New York. The RK&A approach is defined by asking questions to seek clarity, upholding high-quality standards, and working with clients to improve practices.

Image: Cycle of Intentional Practice, ©Randi Korn