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Frame Your Project: “Green” Strategic Workforce Planning

This is the second in a series of eight blog posts that focus on Strategic Workforce Planning.

Framing your project involves essentially, identifying the challenges or difficulties the organization is seeking to address. It asks, What is the business need?

Identifying the goal or problem or challenge is the first step. Is it a people problem, an operational issue, a policy challenge, or perhaps all of the above? Is it something else entirely, perhaps the result of changes in the marketplace, the emergence of new technology, and/or changes in customer requirements?

These are the kinds of questions that are valuable to explore when defining the problem that the Strategic Workforce Plan seeks to address. Engaging with business leaders throughout the organization can help you to effectively suss out these challenges.

Second, it’s essential to identify the current progression of specific actions involved in addressing that particular problem.

Diving into the specific steps in the chain of activity can often pinpoint deeper challenges or less visible, submerged issues that also need to be addressed, such as the need for upgraded software, etc. Again, tap into the insights and expertise of leaders in the organization to gain a full understanding of the chain of activity in a particular business area.

This exploration also lays the foundation for understanding the nature of the problem right now and how the organization is currently “working” that business need.

Some other questions to consider as part of framing include: What are our strengths organizationally in terms of addressing this business need? What risks are present with this challenge? What happens if we don’t address this business need?

Here is where benchmarking and business intelligence can be valuable. We want to be curious about questions like: How do our competitors currently solve this problem? How does our approach differ from our competition? Where are we the same? What value does our particular approach right now provide to our customers?

Additionally, we want to articulate the strategic direction of our organization when considering the business need. What might the current business need look like in three years? Five years?

And we want to look at several other external dimensions. These include social, political, and economic factors.

Building on this, we want to examine: What are the sustainability expectations of policymakers and customers? Are there policy/regulatory requirements, environmental justice, social and/or economic dimensions of the business need that need to be considered? Similarly, are there new or emerging industry standards that need to be looked at?

For example, the European Green New Deal will result in the introduction of several new reporting requirements for ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) metrics as part of addressing climate change impacts in alignment with the Paris Accords. Organizations with European offices or customers are considering how they measure the work that they do presently and what needs to change as a result of the new regulations.

Naturally, this emerging issue has workforce planning implications. What skill sets are needed to effectively manage the ESG portfolio within the organization? What experience does the company currently have with measuring ESG metrics? What potential future implications are there for measurement, strategically and from a competitive standpoint? How does this affect our hiring in the organization? Do we need to establish a budget and pathway forward for training current employees? How do we want to build in these competencies in the future? These are among the many questions that can be addressed through a Green Strategic Workforce Plan.

Some questions to ponder:

  • What are the top 2 to 3 pressing business needs facing our organization today?

  • What emerging issues do we see on the horizon that might affect our viability as an organization over the next 3 years? Over the next 5 years?

Read the first in the series of eight blog posts that focus on Strategic Workforce Planning here.

Can we help with building and sustaining the skills you or your team need to advance professionally and optimize outcomes?

Reach out to Beth Offenbacker, PhD, CPCC, ACC, at or via phone or text at 703-623-4811 to discuss if our Green Career, Executive/Leadership Coaching, Strategic Workforce Planning, Small Group Mentoring, or Learning & Development services are right for you.

We work with professionals and organizations that have a sustainability focus in their work. All services are customized to your needs.

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