Kentucky Derby Museum

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” The Executive leadership of the Kentucky Derby Museum was taking no chances. They had diligently completed a strategic planning process in 2014. The only problem with the plan was that it had been created with a short-term focus so many of the goals and objectives the plan outlined had already been achieved. Patrick Armstrong, President of the Museum, was just beginning the second year of his tenure. “As we reviewed the plan, we realized that we needed to update it and recreate it with a longer-term perspective. We wanted a plan to guide us for the next 3-5 years.”

After a call for proposals and presentations was completed, The Covenant Group was selected to lead the process. Lauren Baldwin, Office Administrator, recalls “We became aware of The Covenant Group through the referral of a Board member who had worked with the firm on a strategic plan with a different organization.” In addition to a more long-term perspective, other goals for the desired outcomes included ensuring that the Museum’s mission, core values and vision were still relevant and that the process would build stakeholder engagement.

The work to achieve these goals began with an online stakeholder survey. Baldwin partnered with Covenant Group staff in the survey process. “The survey was great. The Covenant Group helped make the survey process really easy.” She added, “It accomplished what we wanted by giving all of our stakeholders (staff, Board, donors, volunteers) a chance to be involved in the process and share their input.” Armstrong mentioned that he was pleasantly surprised with the survey results. “They were overwhelmingly positive. That is a great place to begin this type of process because it helped us build buy-in and gave everyone a chance to share in the formation of our direction.”

With the plan finished, the Museum is well on its way to implementation. Both Baldwin and Armstrong agree that they have put in place a process of checks and balances to ensure that “the plan is not put on a shelf and forgotten about”. Baldwin reports that they have a tracking process that helps keep individuals and teams accountable to the tasks and timelines set forth. They also discuss the plan at weekly and monthly meetings to keep it fresh in everyone’s mind. Some positive outcomes of the process have included building communication across departments, strengthening the staff and bringing people together.

Both Baldwin and Armstrong describe The Covenant Group’s process as efficient and effective. In fact, Baldwin calls the amount of time we saved “invaluable”. She continued, “It was so nice to have an experienced, knowledgeable facilitator leading us and helping keep us on task.” Armstrong adds, “Len very effectively gathered input from our internal resources which helped steer us in the right direction.”

Both agree that they would recommend The Covenant Group to other organizations. “They are friendly, accommodating and responsive. Trying to do this process without help is kind of like being in a boat with no paddles…it is not nearly as productive.”