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Learning to Plan Together

From: LEAVEN, Vol. 37 No. 5, February-March 2002, p. 2.
Nan Jolly
LLLI Board of Directors

No one could accuse LLLI of thinking small! We’ve taken on an enormous task. We are just over 6,000 Leaders in the whole world, with very little money, and limited time, to do it all. Yet we know that we regularly accomplish much more than seems possible.

It’s not surprising that the LLLI Board of Directors takes its responsibility to plan for the organization seriously. We must plan so that our limited resources of energy, time, and money are directed to achieve the best results.

In the past, we’ve made and used strategic plans. The strategic plan made in April 1993 is Appendix 25 of the Policies and Standing Rules Notebook. Since then, though, we have not been able to take time to think about the long-term future of LLLI. Now the Board is resuming its leadership role in planning for the future, and we are learning to plan together.


One of the principles we’ve learned from the Chaordic Initiative is the value of participation in decision making by as many of those affected as possible. Deciding on priorities for the whole of LLLI is the responsibility of the Board, and indeed, it needs the perspective that the Board has of all of LLLI and of its relationships with the world outside of LLLI. At the same time, the Board needs the perspectives and creativity of as much of the LLLI community as possible to be part of the process.

The Board leads LLLI in initiating the vision and priorities for the organization. However, we’re hoping everyone will participate in this process. Working together to prioritize our goals to achieve our purpose in a changing world will help us work together more effectively toward our mission.

Getting It Together

To maximize participation, last September we asked Leaders to send us their opinions of priorities that LLLI should have in the coming years. We also took advantage of a joint meeting with the LLLI Directors in Schaumburg, and followed this by further organization-wide discussion.

Rapid electronic communications and in-person meetings make participation of much of the LLLI community easier. Our challenge is to include Leaders who are not in electronic contact and with whom we cannot meet in person, but we are confident that we will be able to do this. Some Areas ask Leaders in email contact to send messages by mail and phone to those without email. While we are far from being able to consult with every member of the LLLI community, we have made a beginning.

Suggestions already received have placed the most emphasis on supporting the Leader, making her job easier, providing translations, and ensuring excellence of our resources (funding, information, education, motivation, communication). Many wanted LLLI to increase diversity, with broadening of the LLL community across social and economic barriers. Marketing and publicity received particular mention, while structural change and the need to increase the number of Applicants and improve the application process were also mentioned.

At the joint meeting in October 2001 with the LLLI Directors, we worked in small groups, brainstorming, distilling, and relating ideas to come up with priorities for LLLI activities for the next year. Priorities that were identified were: Technology, Translations, Training (including skill building), Funding, Team building, Broadening our community and audience, Rapid response to media reports on breastfeeding, Leader support and mentoring (Leader/Group/DA, Leader accreditation), Creating trust and a culture that values self-assessment (without need to be defensive), Public recognition of volunteers, and a Spirit of inquiry. All of these priorities seem interrelated, with each depending on and helping the others to be achieved.

After the October 2001 meeting, the Planning Committee led an organization-wide discussion to further explore and refine our priorities, enabling us to make recommendations to the Board.

When the Board meets at the Annual Session in February 2002, we will bring a compilation of goals and priorities for the coming year that have been shared by those who participated in the planning, which is a wider group than ever before. The participatory process for planning that we are learning to use forms a model for future efforts by others in LLLI. Our priorities for 2002 will be published in the next issue of Leaven, and will be posted on the LLLI Web site.

The budget is the tool we use for allocating and for setting our target for the amount of resources we plan to acquire. The budget approved in February 2002 will be based on our goals and priorities for the organization, and those goals and priorities will also guide the activities of the Board for the coming year.

We love it when a plan comes together!

Our Mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and the mother.

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