Strategic Planning-in-Action

A Methodology for Accomplishment, Focus and Breakthrough

Updated January 2008

To meet the challenge of ending hunger requires a methodology that will break up old patterns of action, that will foster new ways of thinking and empower people to achieve concrete breakthroughs in health, education, nutrition, food production, incomes and the empowerment of women.

The methodology developed by The Hunger Project to achieve this is called strategic planning-in-action. Wherever we work, from the villages to the highest policy levels, we apply this methodology:

  • Mobilize and build the capacities of committed indigenous leadership: The first step in our work is always to enlist the leadership of individuals of great commitment, complete integrity and the stature to access anyone in society necessary to ending hunger. Leadership for action in a village must come from that village; leadership for action in a nation must come from that nation. These individuals must become completely clear about and committed to utilizing the principles and methodology of The Hunger Project.
  • Bring together all sectors of society: Ending hunger cannot be accomplished by any one organization or any one sector of society. We bring together leadership from all key sectors — business, academia, media, NGOs and government agencies — building alliances for advocacy and action to empower people’s self-reliant action and transform the social conditions that hold hunger in place.
  • Build a shared understanding: For people to work together effectively, they must achieve a comprehensive shared understanding of the prevailing conditions, the effectiveness of existing programs and the priority areas where action is required. Bringing all the information together, and making it clear, finite and confrontable, has been one of the most empowering contributions of The Hunger Project since its inception.
  • Commit to achieving a strategic intent: Individuals working with The Hunger Project must develop a powerfully articulated, unifying and achievable vision — a strategic intent — and clear, near-term strategic objectives appropriate to solving the problem, society-wide. We must never be content with helping a few, but rather commit ourselves to transforming conditions throughout society so that all people can build lives free from hunger.
  • Commit to playing a strategic, catalytic role: Once people are committed to actually achieving the goal, they must then recognize the possibility of taking catalytic, high-leverage action that can affect the “big picture” — breaking bottlenecks to progress, improving existing programs, mobilizing and making better use of resources, effecting structural changes in society that can unleash the creativity and productivity of hungry people.
  • Identify what’s missing: Our work is always guided by the question, What’s missing? What, if provided, would allow for a breakthrough? This is very different, and far more powerful, than the more common questions, What’s wrong? Why isn’t it working? These latter questions tend to call forth blame and paralysis, not action and cooperation. The Hunger Project respects the work of other organizations — by focusing on what’s missing, we avoid duplicating work being done by others.
  • Take immediate action to catalyze “what’s missing” being provided. Take action first where it can succeed and produce near-term results.
  • Create a momentum of accomplishment: One must constantly assess and sharpen the strategy. Each accomplishment gives a new landscape: new leadership, new obstacles, new openings for catalytic action. Each failure can lead to a deeper understanding of the nature of the challenge. Creating and sustaining this campaign mentality and style of working is crucial to breaking the mind-set of resignation and unleashing the human spirit.