How might we...
balance the day-to-day needs of the clinic with our desire to increase impact?

The Native American Community Clinic (NACC)is a community health clinic in Minneapolis that serves an urban Native American population. It uses a culturally responsive combination of indigenous/traditional healing practices and western medicine to provide accessible, comprehensive healthcare to its constituents, called relatives.

With a mission to promote the health and wellness of mind, body, and spirit in Native American families, NACC sought our expertise to assist in formulating an 8-10 year strategic plan and landscape analysis to audit their existing collateral and support the direction of the new strategic plan.

How We Did It

The work followed a three phase approach. Starting with qualitative interviews and a landscape analysis, we sat down with elders in the community and a wide swath of stakeholders and spent time listening to their stories and understanding their experiences. These interviews informed how we designed a series of workshops to help participants align on priorities for the eventual creation of the strategic plan.

Based on the conversations we had with NACC’s constituents and employees, we understood that a key priority was leveraging the voices of these stakeholders and ensuring they lived in the strategic plan. One part of doing this was creating a normed understanding of equity and incorporating equity checks throughout the process. We understood that we needed to put great care into the language being used in this work, to ensure that it faithfully reflected the voices of the community.

This was just one part of our efforts: leveraging and including the voices of all of NACC’s stakeholders into the workshops, and therefore, the strategic plan. But it was also our responsibility to bring our expertise into the room — in particular, helping the participants see the state of the healthcare system more clearly, from an outside perspective. To ground this work, we used trend analysis and impact cascades to contextualize what is happening in the healthcare space and what that meant for the population NACC serves.

Yet while the work we do is always designing with not designing for clients like NACC, the conversations we had throughout this engagement were humbling. NACC employees did not hesitate to call us out on our blindspots — particularly regarding our understanding of traditional healing. Seeing the bigger picture was a crucial piece of the puzzle, but they consistently reminded us not to focus too heavily on Western medicine as the organization is Indigenous first.

The results
An equitable roadmap to guide rapid growth and an increased footprint.

By the end of the engagement, NACC had a fully fleshed out strategic plan, including priorities, goals, values, and strategies that would guide their work for the coming years.

But we think the more impactful part was helping the team create space to discuss challenging subjects, align on priorities and language, and make time to do so in the midst of a busy organization grappling with an immeasurable challenge — the onset of the pandemic. Over time, participants felt empowered to share their perspectives and values, find ways to align these views, and then operationalize the plan.

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