Strategy development and inclusivity: why it matters 

Jul 20, 2023

Integrate Health is thrilled to unveil its new five-year strategic plan. This document is the culmination of six months of intensive data collection, thoughtful strategy workshops, and rigorous analysis. As our organization accelerates its growth and strengthens its footprint in the West African region, our strategic planning process required both exceptional expertise and diverse perspectives. For the first time, we opted for an inclusive approach to strategy development that centered on contributions from staff, community members, government partners, and experts in the field. This participatory process resulted in a robust, ambitious, and innovative strategic plan. 

External Facilitation, Internal Leadership 

Integrate Health Staff Workshop

Integrate Health engaged a team of consultants from LSS Global to facilitate the strategic planning process. The consultant team brought extensive expertise to the process, including deep knowledge of the Togolese health system, international development global perspective, and facilitation skills. Having an external team facilitating the process added credibility and perspective, while also allowing for honest interviews with stakeholders who may have been less comfortable sharing their opinions with Integrate Health leadership directly.   

To oversee the entire process, Integrate Health formed a Strategic Planning Committee of 14 members, representing every Integrate Health team, including a Community Health Worker. The mandate of the Committee was to ensure that the strategic planning process was participatory, contextually relevant, and effective. The Committee served as a link between the consultant team and the rest of the organization. The Committee met weekly to monitor progress, and reported monthly to a larger Advisory Committee, a group of over 30 staff members, which provided additional feedback.  

Strategic Planning Process: What Did It Look Like? 

The six-month strategic planning process started with an in-depth data collection phase. LSS Global consultants conducted over 50 stakeholder interviews and focus group discussions. Interview questions were vetted and validated by the Strategic Planning Ccommittee. Stakeholders interviewed included government officials, technical and financial partners working in Togo and Guinea, community leaders, patients, staff members, and funders. Stakeholders were asked about Integrate Health’s strengths and weaknesses as an organization, our major accomplishments to date, and what unique role we can play in the movement for health for all in the future. The LSS Global team analyzed data in a consolidated report presented back to Integrate Health, which served as the foundation for strategy development.  

Integrate Health two days retreat

In March 2023, Integrate Health held a two-day strategic planning retreat in Togo with the Strategic Planning Committee and the senior leadership team. LSS Global facilitated an interactive workshop for the 24 participants that culminated in the creation of a new Theory of Change, which serves as the cornerstone for the FY2023-2028 strategy. The retreat was a unique opportunity for a diverse group of Integrate Health staff to work together on big picture goals; it brought together staff from different sites, cities, and countries who might not have the opportunity to engage with each other regularly. The atmosphere was engaging, curious, and collaborative.  

Championing Inclusivity in Strategy Development 

We prioritized inclusivity at every stage of the planning process, ensuring staff members, government, and patients could voice their thoughts, share feedback, pose questions, and offer constructive criticism. Achieving this level of inclusivity was a challenge. We encountered hurdles in identifying consultants who embodied our values of inclusivity and possessed the requisite expertise and language skills.  

However, this process yielded more than just a strategic plan for the next five years. By hearing from various organization members, we deepened our understanding of our own organization, the unique challenges faced by different team members, and the factors that could threaten or enable our mission. If we had limited this process to only internal contributions, we would have missed the critical perspective of those closest to the problems and the solutions—community members and health workers. Instead, because of the participatory approach, our strategic plan reflects our organization’s realities and presents a unified vision for the future. Our staff members feel energized to partake in its execution because they participated in its creation. We look forward to achieving the ambitious goals we have set for ourselves. 

“I had the opportunity to take part in the workshop to develop the FY2023-2028 Strategic Plan for Integrate Health. This was a first for me. And it was a success. I was very careful with what was going on, very attentive throughout the whole process. When the work started, though, I didn’t know how I was going to be useful. After all, this was very new to me. But I ended up taking an active part in the brainstorming exercises, debates, etc. This experience taught me a lot, and I actually felt very comfortable raising my voice as the session went on. I learned a lot, and as a staff member of Integrate Health, I intend to get involved and make sure that the implementation of the FY2023-2028 strategic plan is successful.” 

Quote from Benjamine Akouvi Elitcha, Accounting Assistant at Integrate Health, member of the Strategic Planning Committee 

We are grateful to our team of LSS Global consultants and to the members of the Committee who dedicated time and effort to guide this critical process:  

Aboubacar Diakite, Country Director in Guinea  

Agnes Miziou, Research Coordinator  

Anita Kouvahey-Eklu, Deputy Country Director in Togo 

Benjamine Elitcha, Accounting Assistant 

Bili Douti, Clinical Director 

Brigitte Assih, Training Coordinator  

Christophe Gbeleou, Country Director in Togo 

Jennifer Schechter, CEO and Co-Founder 

Kocra Lossina Assoua, Senior Director MEQI 

Kombaté Sipiere, Database Manager 

Marie-José Ekoue, Analyst and Data Manager 

Patrick Aylward, former Chief Operating Officer  

Tchilalo Rebecca Tchotchokou, Community Health Worker