General Strategy

Strategy Development and Audits

To translate concern about environmental issues into tangible change, strategy – a plan for how you will allocate time and resources to accomplish specific goals – is necessary. Having a clear understanding of the many factors surrounding an issue and methodically identifying critical targets and opportunities are important steps in setting goals that will make the most impact. Then it’s time to create a plan for a campaign or project that will accomplish those goals, which should include the resources available, a timeline, as well as the approach to take with communications. What results is the structure and mandate behind a new campaign, an initiative or an entire organization. It’s a crucial process, and often helps to have an outside perspective to help guide it.

We like to divide our strategy work into two areas, development and audits. With strategy development, we assist groups that are working from scratch to address an issue they care about. For example, the group Fin Fighters in the UK evolved from a partnership between its founders and The Idea Tree, working together to understand what people in the UK could do to influence the issue of shark finning. In a strategy audit, we take a look at an existing campaign or organization in general to see if anything could be done differently or when it seems an existing strategy isn’t working. We have seen many times how groups get stuck on doing things in a particular way just because that’s the way it’s always been done for them, or groups that mean well when they set targets, but in the end those targets actually have a very limited impact or immeasurable impact on an issue. Periodically, it’s a great idea to take a step back and see if what you’re doing really makes sense, or if your time and energy would be better spent on a slightly different plan.

We have a history of working with a number of environmental groups, from the very small to the very big, seeing what works and what doesn’t, when strategy is smart, and when it doesn’t go far enough. Dr. Phelps Bondaroff brings to The Idea Tree a background in studying strategy specifically as it relates to environmental groups. His undergraduate thesis focused on the strategy of ecotage, and his more recent PhD thesis focused on the strategy of direct enforcement, using the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as a case study.