Vista Autism Services

Strategic Planning & Change Management


The Problem

Vista Autism Services provides integrated education, behavioral health, and other support services from diagnosis through adulthood in Central PA. Recent growth in both programs and clients served led to increased complexity within the organization, including growth of its employee base. The boards guiding the non-profit in achieving its mission recommended development of a strategy that provided a framework for continuing the momentum for the next three years.

The Approach

Dering leveraged its typical strategic planning process that includes analysis of the current operational state, collection of stakeholder feedback from across the organization and planning workshops with leaders to identify the goals and objectives through 2026. 

However, it became apparent in the discussions with the top operational leaders that their plan also needed to have a heavy emphasis on the implementation of “the plan” as well. To meet this need, Dering also decided that an implementation roadmap was necessary to meet Vista’s unique needs. 

The Solution

The planning process was initially started in 2022 culminating in an initial set of goals and objectives in July 2022. However, it became apparent to the critical stakeholders that implementation was going to be a challenge given several factors, primarily the search and onboarding of a new CEO. So, implementation of the plan was suspended to address the factors. 

In 2023, the Dering team re-engaged with the Executive Leadership Team under the new CEO. This work included a new SWOT survey and facilitation of workshops with leaders. In these workshops leaders revisited and refined the goals and objectives from the work in 2022. And to address implementation the leaders also aligned their current projects and initiatives with the goals and objectives. This tight integration of future and current work led to the Dering team developing an Implementation Roadmap. This roadmap, which is an Excel-based tool, turned the strategic plan into an implementation dashboard that the executive team will use in its bi-weekly meetings to manage the tactics and projects within the plan. 

The Results

Vista Autism Services not only has a strategic plan through 2026, but its leaders have a tool for managing the month-to-month activities within the plan that includes clear delineation of project and tactic champions and timelines for achieving results.