Drafting a blueprint

‘Capacity building’ is a hot topic these days. What does it mean?
To me, capacity building means understanding and developing the skills and capabilities an organization needs to deliver on its mission.

And strategic planning?
Strategic planning is the first step. A good strategic plan lays out your goals, what strategies you will employ to reach those goals, and your operational tactics. It does not have to be a large binder that sits on your shelf. For Breckenridge Creative Arts, we summarized our strategic plan on one piece of paper.

How do you facilitate strategic planning?
In an ideal world you start with an understanding of your vision and mission. Once you have that you look at the external environment to understand what’s going on and identify elements that might impact your organization. This involves desk research, and often a competitive assessment. Then you develop specific strategies, followed by the tactics. For Breckenridge Creative Arts, we did it as a Board with CEO Robb Woulfe involved. Usually there’s one facilitator who synthesizes what people are saying. I like to ask: “Five years from now, where do we want to be with operations and offerings?” Sometimes there are too many goals, or the goals are too big, and we need to narrow the scope or change the time frame. So it’s a process.

Does the plan ever change?
Every element has a time frame. The tactics are annual. The strategies are good for 3-5 years. The goals are in the 5-year range. Every year we revisit the goals and make sure they are still solid; if they’re changing every year they probably were not big enough goals.

Why is strategic planning important?
A solid strategic plan helps organizations effectively deploy their resources. It becomes a management tool. It helps answer the question, “What should I be doing?” and provides a roadmap for capacity building.

And you are a volunteer?
Yes. My volunteering arose out of the fact that I spent most of my career working too many hours to do anything to help the communities in which I lived. Both my husband, Mark, and I decided now is the time to give back.

Why Breckenridge?
I grew up in New Jersey, and I have the awesome 1980’s “big hair” pictures to prove it. Years ago in Beaver Creek I broke my arm the first day of the holiday, so we went to look at property. We bought a lot in Breckenridge we thought would be seasonal, but we loved it so much we moved here full time in 2011.

What else do you like to do?
I very much enjoy hiking with my dog, Macallan, which is the name of my husband’s favorite scotch. I bike and I golf and I ski downhill

Deb Kelleher Spiers moved to Breckenridge after retiring from Publicis Healthcare Communication Group, where she was executive VP and chief strategic officer. In addition to serving as board chair for Breckenridge Creative Arts, she volunteers through The Summit Foundation’s Executive Volunteer Corps, helping local nonprofits with strategic planning.

Photos: Liam Doran