Strategic Visioning & Planning


Over a quarter-century of experience creating and advising some of the nation’s top social change organizations as they accelerate change

Early-stage and mature organizations alike can benefit from new ideas and a fresh perspective. Our strategic visioning and planning services include everything from auditing and analyzing internal functionality, to designing and writing strategic plans that take into account an organization’s strengths, weaknesses and resources so it can effectively execute new plans for success.
These partnerships sometimes take the form of short-term reconnaissance projects that examine an organization’s potential for strategic engagement with international, federal, state and local governments. This process can be particularly useful for organizations new to advocacy as they consider opportunities for public policy engagement. In other cases, we assist more established organizations in developing new cutting-edge strategies to accelerate impact and revitalize their current approach to government advocacy.

No matter the stage of maturity of an organization, TSG’s team of experts can help increase its capacity to create social change.


Strategic Planning Case Study

SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is an international alliance of nearly 800 academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC believes that faster, broader and more open sharing of the outputs of the scholarly research process increases the impact of research, fuels the advancement of knowledge, and increases the return on research investments.


The Challenge

Every year, the federal government spends more than $60 billion dollars in basic and applied research seeking new discoveries in medical research, energy efficiency, and other technological advances. The government funds this research with the expectation that new ideas and discoveries resulting from that research will advance science, stimulate innovation, grow the economy, and improve the lives and welfare of Americans. The internet makes it possible to advance these goals by providing public online access to federally funded research and has revolutionized information sharing by enabling prompt sharing of the latest advances with every scientist, physician, educator, entrepreneur and citizen.

Unfortunately, despite the modern advances that make it possible for the American public to access this information promptly, the publishing industry has made that very difficult by capitalizing on the power they wield. For a researcher to have their results published, they must essentially sign over the rights of that work to the publisher, which gives them the right to charge exorbitant subscription fees or place long embargoes on materials, making it impossible for the public to freely access research their own taxes funded. These tactics ensure that the publishers can protect their self-interest and sacrifices the potential advances that could be made by citizens all over the country interested in specific areas of research. Quick access to research for commercial application helps spur investment in the development of new and innovative products, and helps businesses small and large compete at a higher level in the global marketplace.

The Process

TSG worked to formulate a strategy to neutralize/overcome the opposition and advance federal open access policies. The Sheridan Group:

  • Developed a policy platform around the existing National Institutes of Health open access policy, (which required all researchers to submit a digital copy of all publicly funded articles to the digital counterpart of the NIH within one year of publication to be released to the public at no cost) with a focus on replicating that policy across all other federal agencies.

  • Conducted a full review of SPARC’s opposition, including political contributions made to Members of Congress on relevant committees.

  • Developed a Congressional champion building strategy that focused on members from both houses and parties and the Obama administration to ensure that the necessary staffers were properly advised on the success of the NIH policy and the degree to which that would be amplified if it were expanded across all agencies.

  • Helped build a strong political constituency to advance the open access agenda – this included rallying SPARC’s grassroots networks to get over 65,000 signatures for a “We the People” petition. (At the time, 25,000 signatures were required within 2 weeks for the White House to give an official response – SPARC hit 65,000 before those 2 weeks were up.)

  • Filed the ‘Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act’ in both the House and Senate.  The bipartisan legislation, supported by Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Wyden (D-OR) in the Senate and Rep. Doyle (D-PA), Rep. Yoder (R-KS) and Rep. Lofgren (D-CA) in the House, would require 11 federal agencies to implement open access policies with a six month embargo period and contain full re-use rights.

  • Successfully worked with senior staff at the White House to advance an open access agenda through the appropriate channels.  

The Result

On February 22, 2013, the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy issued a memorandum entitled “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research.” This memorandum requires that federal agencies with research and development budgets in excess of $100 million develop plans to make the results of federally funded research available to the public within 12 months of being published in a peer reviewed journal.  In addition, it requires researchers to better manage data that results from federally funded scientific research.  To read the memorandum, please click here.