Scaling Mindfulness: Powerful Strategy for an Education Non-Profit
Mindful Schools brings the power of mindfulness to teachers and students across the globe. Facing declining enrollment in their core offerings—online mindfulness trainings for classroom teachers—the organization’s new leadership team was looking for support in crafting an updated strategic plan. We looked forward to helping them bring mindfulness education to the teachers and students who needed it most.
We began our work by identifying the key questions we needed to answer during our work together. From there, we met with stakeholders, conducted focus groups, and analyzed the landscape. As we dug deeper, a core challenge emerged: how could Mindful Schools stay true to their belief that mindful individuals are the ones who most powerfully impact students’ lives, while still finding ways to scale at the school and district levels?
With the challenge defined, we explored different strategic approaches for capitalizing on the opportunity it presented. As we did so, we made sure to consider the brand messaging and visuals that would be needed to support each strategic approach. If we stayed closer to the current theory of change—primarily about individual impact—the brand would need to focus on demonstrating the benefits of mindfulness in teachers’ and students’ lives. If we focused more on systems-level change, the brand would need to evoke a sense of revolution and momentum.
Through our exploration and collaboration, we uncovered and further defined a journey through which individual mindful educators are able to come together to transform their schools and communities. From there, we explored how Mindful Schools is best positioned to support and empower that journey. Ultimately, we came to see Mindful Schools’ most valuable role as that of a guide and connector working to empower mindfulness champions. We identified three key organizational levers for doing so, and worked to specify the roles and responsibilities of each.
Having aligned on the strategy as a project team, we identified the areas where we were least confident in our assumptions and set out to test them. After conducting several focus groups, we were pleased to find that the core of our strategy held water, and that there were plenty of areas in which we could improve. We revised our work accordingly and created an organizational roadmap to guide Mindful Schools’ execution of the strategic plan over the next 5 years. They are now embarking on that journey, and we are excited to see where it takes them!
Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what the head of Mindful Schools had to say about our work together:
“Free Range helped us envision how we can make an even greater impact with our work. Throughout our strategic planning process, the Free Range team listened to us and heard our needs while also offering their creative and confident insights—something they never had a shortage of! They were always ready to facilitate a healthy debate and wisely encouraged us to examine and question our assumptions. What we really appreciated is that they weren’t afraid to admit when they didn’t know something. By the end of the project, they had brought our collective ideas and insights together into a terrific plan that our organization is thrilled to now be executing on!”
-Robert Thomas, Executive Director, Mindful Schools