Collaborative and inclusive strategy development

Health in Mind recently invited us to support a collaborative approach to the development of their new strategic plan for 2023-2028. The process – and end product – are great examples of sustainable strategy in action.

Health in Mind logoAbout Health in Mind

Health in Mind is one of Scotland’s best-known and trusted mental health charities. Since its formation in 1982, the organisation has evolved in response to need and now promote positive mental health and wellbeing in local communities across Scotland. It recently became a Lasting Difference Symbol holder.


Collaborative, inclusive strategy development

During late 2021, Health in Mind’s board and leadership team committed to working collaboratively with a range of stakeholders to develop the organisation’s new strategy. The aim was to generate a shared sense of ownership, ambition and purpose to ensure that the organisation continued to meet people’s needs.

Wendy Bates, CEO notes the importance of bringing people – and the past – into a strategy for the future:

‘People are always at the heart of all we do at Health in Mind. In 2022, we celebrated 40 years of Health in Mind, and this reinforced our strong history of creativity and innovation, positive, hopeful, and inclusive approach, and knowledge and experience of working alongside people to improve mental health and wellbeing across Scotland. We wanted to ensure this collaborative and inclusive approach was central to the development of our new strategy.

To guide and oversee the year-long strategy development process Health in Mind’s Board created a Strategy Development Group (SDG), comprising trustees and team members.

Christina Naismith, former Chair of the Board and SDG, sees strategy as a route map to the future:

‘An organisational strategy sets out the route map towards an organisation’s vision and goals. To oversee the development of our new strategy, a group of staff and trustees was established by the Board. We named ourselves the Strategy Development Group and were supported by The Lasting Difference who facilitated the process for agreeing our programme for the design of the strategy. We used a great toolkit to provoke new thinking about old, and some new, issues. Right from the get-go we emphasised the key importance of engagement with our stakeholders, staff, volunteers, supporters, and people accessing our services.’

Over a 12-month period, The Lasting Difference team supported Health in Mind’s engagement with:

  • People who accessed services and support
  • Key partners at local and national level
  • Staff members and volunteers
  • Board of trustees

The Strategy Development Group (SDG) met regularly to understand and distill the broad range of insights and experiences shared by stakeholders, ensuring these were at the heart of the strategy development and drafting process. SDG members also reflected on developments in the external environment, and the role and contribution of Health in Mind to wider system change.

The new strategy ‘Sharing Hope’ which emerged from this process supported Health in Mind’s board, team and wider stakeholders to have increased clarity and ownership of the organisation’s:

  • Identity, core purpose and values
  • Priorities and impact
  • Approach to support (reflecting feedback from stakeholders about the ‘Health in Mind way’)
  • Unique pathway of support and services offered (‘There when, how and where people need us’)
  • Commitments for the future


Wendy notes that what comes next is just as important:

‘We are hugely grateful to everyone who was involved for their energy, enthusiasm, and expertise. We know this process has made our new strategy stronger, and that it belongs to everyone who has a stake in our work. We will continue to listen to and engage with people accessing support, communities in which we work, partners, staff, and volunteers as we start on a new journey, delivering on the commitments we have made within our strategy. Since the launch of our strategy in April 2023, we have established a Strategy Learning & Implementation Group involving trustees and team members, to ensure on-going collaboration and inclusion in our next steps.

For Christina Naismith, values are a vital part of this:

‘Feedback from the engagement with all our key stakeholders really helped us to understand what was working and what needed to be improved, which all helped to shape our new strategy. We identified a lovely phrase used a lot by people throughout the consultations – the “Health in Mind Way”, and learnt how well our values were understood, and crucially how they were actioned and lived throughout the organisation.

 Jen Curran from The Lasting Difference reflects on sustainable strategy:

‘For a strategy to be truly sustainable it needs to be owned by the whole team – and understood and cared about by wider stakeholders. From the very beginning of the strategy development process, I was struck by Health in Mind’s unwavering commitment to ensuring their new strategic plan was shaped, informed and owned by their key internal and external stakeholders. In particular the organisation’s approach to bringing their values to life each and every day was hugely impressive. If you’d like to know how values and strategy shape organisational culture and sustainability, speak to Health in Mind!’

Find out more about Health in Mind’s work and new strategy here:

For more on Learning and Improvement Groups, check out our guide to Lateral Leadership.