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Strategies. We all have them, we all work from them, but we don’t ALL help create them. This is what makes North Star different to most.

Our culture of shared leadership, co-creation, developing high levels of trust and ensuring that everyone has influence at every level, means we do things differently. Nothing demonstrates this better than our recent strategy development journey.

Often in organisations vision work is done at a senior level or at board level, and then at best staff are consulted about it and can have some involvement – but mostly they are told what the vision is and then they are told they have to deliver it – we didn’t do any of that, we did it completely differently.

We recently embarked upon the development of our next five year strategy and the big difference this time is that we wanted to involve more people across the organisation. We believed we could plan for the future differently, choosing ways of working where energy and inclusion are at the top of the agenda.

The organisation invited all staff and the Board to an Open Space event. An Open Space event allows for any number of people to meet, discuss issues of heartfelt concern, pool their knowledge and make recommendations. This allowed us all to have input, right from the beginning, on shaping, informing and influencing the Vision to 2023.

It was clear this was not business as usual. There was no advance agenda, we only knew when it was taking place and that somehow we would accomplish the task before us.

The event was designed to provide staff, regardless of organisational position or role, with the opportunity to really influence the future vision of the company. It gave us a forum to question and challenge the status quo, to hold our goals and values up to critical scrutiny through reflection and ultimately begin the journey to transformational change.

North Star staff work together to improve North Star services

From this, twenty six staff then put themselves forward to take on more in-depth work to help develop the vision – these groupings were named ‘Discoverers’ and ‘Visioneers’. Discoverers delving into the detail and researching key areas for improvement and travel, and Visioneers, building on the work of the Discoverers, co-creating, crafting and bringing the vision to life. What held the group together was a deep commitment to the values, ethics and purpose of North Star, which manifested itself as a deeply rooted and unflinching dedication to improving the lives of the people with whom North Star comes into contact.

A group of staff from North Star are working on the strategy to 2023

It’s becoming more and more apparent that as a housing association we are operating in challenging contexts, with funding cuts, rent reductions and simply having to do more for less. Therefore, doing the same thing we’ve always done just doesn’t work anymore, luckily we woke up to this in 2013. By involving all staff in creating the future vision the organisation is leading the way in transformational change, it’s more creative and reflexive. It provides the opportunity for staff to really learn, develop and grow and leads to a much stronger business.