Know What You Have Before Getting What You Want

For most business owners, it’s far more exciting to dream about “the next big idea” than to tackle their current challenges. This mindset often extends to planning for a transition, whether it’s succession or the sale of the company. We all want to jump to that “next step” once we can envision it. However, the most successful growth or transition plans start with a clear understanding of the current state, including improvement opportunities and blind spots.

Gaps and opportunities can exist in multiple areas: leadership and organization, operations, commercial and development processes, and financial information management. At DWH, we employ a proven Assessment protocol customized to each client’s situation. Think of it as a multi-point inspection followed by in-depth discussions about observed challenges, risks, and opportunities compared to best practices.

Taking Inventory for Future Success

By aligning on ‘what we have’, business owners and leaders can better set realistic expectations for their company’s future. This future could involve growing the business, entering new markets, pursuing new ventures, transforming the business for the next generation, or developing individual team members.

A well-facilitated development process integrates planning around the ‘why’, the ‘how’, and the ‘what’. This includes an action plan to address immediate gaps and achieve mid-to-long-term objectives, supported by the necessary resources and expertise to guide process improvements, capability development, and implementation.

Ways to Reduce Risks

To minimize risks associated with growth or transition, we at DWH often assist clients in several key areas:

  • Identifying Gaps and Blind Spots: We help uncover areas needing improvement and potential challenges.
  • Setting Goals and Objectives: We assist in strategic planning to set clear, achievable targets.
  • Creating Stakeholder Alignment: We work to ensure all key stakeholders are on the same page.
  • Planning for Leadership Transitions: We help manage transitions of leadership, relationships, roles, and knowledge.
  • Establishing Controls and Governance: We implement meaningful controls and governance structures.
  • Strengthening the Business: We enhance overall business strength, including people, processes, and property.

Understanding what you have before moving to what you want is crucial for a successful business journey. Let DWH guide you through this process to ensure a solid foundation for your future growth and transition plans.

If you want to learn more about our strategic approach to growth and transitions, click here.


This post is from the DWH archives
Content written by Marcel van der Elst
Edited by Jordan Gunn


The DWH Business Assessment Tool Explained

At DWH, we believe that informed decision-making is the cornerstone of business success. Our comprehensive business assessment process is one of our most effective tools in this endeavor. Frequently, clients ask us about this process and its benefits. Here’s an in-depth look at what it entails and how it can help your business thrive.

A Deep Dive into Your Business

Our business assessment is designed to gather both quantitative and qualitative data, ensuring a holistic understanding of your operations. This meticulous process allows us to identify gaps between your current practices and industry best practices. We then develop tailored recommendations to bridge these gaps, driving your business toward excellence. Here’s how we do it:

Comprehensive Information Request: We begin with a detailed request for information, covering various aspects of your business operations, finances, leadership, and market positioning to ensure we have a thorough understanding of your current state.

In-depth Interviews: Our team conducts interviews with key leaders and stakeholders to gather qualitative insights into leadership dynamics, strategic vision, and organizational culture, providing a deeper context for our assessment.

On-site Observations: Our team visits your business premises to observe operations firsthand, focusing on four critical areas: Leadership, Operations, Finance and Management Information, and Sales and Marketing.

Actionable Insights for Immediate Impact

Upon completing the assessment, we provide you with a comprehensive report that outlines:

Identified Gaps: We offer tailored, actionable strategies to address identified gaps, including operational enhancements, leadership development, financial optimization, and improved sales and marketing tactics.

Recommendations: We offer tailored, actionable strategies to address identified gaps, including operational enhancements, leadership development, financial optimization, and improved sales and marketing tactics.

Prioritized Action Plan: We provide a step-by-step roadmap prioritizing actions based on impact, helping you focus on critical tasks to achieve efficient progress and sustainable growth.

We present this report in a collaborative session with your leadership team, ensuring clarity and understanding. Our goal is to empower you to take decisive action, and we often assist with implementing the recommendations. If specialized expertise is needed, we help you find the right providers to ensure seamless execution.

Driving Value Across Business Stages

Our business assessment tool is versatile and can significantly impact businesses at various stages of their lifecycle:

Distressed Businesses: Our assessment identifies critical risks for companies in financial or operational distress and prioritizes actions to stabilize and improve performance.

Rapid Growth: Businesses poised for growth benefit from our assessment by identifying potential challenges and validating financial projections to ensure sustainable expansion.

Succession Planning: Transitioning leadership is a pivotal moment. Our assessment helps outline a clear path forward, addressing risks and ensuring the business can support the succession plan. For more insights, see our post, Succession Planning: Preserving Company Legacy.

Preparing for Transaction: When preparing for a sale or acquisition, our assessment enhances business value by improving cash flow and reducing risks, making the business more attractive to potential buyers.

Why Choose DWH?

At DWH, we understand that every business is unique. Our approach is rooted in our core philosophy: every stakeholder matters. We listen, analyze, and provide customized solutions that align with your business’s specific needs. For nearly 15 years, we have been helping companies navigate change, improve performance, and achieve their goals.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

If you have any questions or would like to discuss how our business assessment tool can help your business, please feel free to reach out. At DWH, we’re here to guide you toward your best value, outcomes, and opportunities. Change happens – plan for it, with us.


This post was written by Heather Gardner | LinkedIn


A Case Study in Future-Proofing a Local Health Facility

The Situation:

A community mental and behavioral health facility has been providing a wide range of residential care, counseling, and other community health services for youth, adults, and families since the 1960s. These programs represent Core Services, funded by public contract sources – 60% of its total budget, and Transforming Services, funded by donor contributions -less than 10% of the annual operating funds. The facility experienced a declining patient population due to state regulatory and procedural changes, and caretaker staffing difficulties. Despite new leadership in 2020 to initiate a wide-reaching plan to grow the organization and steamline its operations, COVID-19 and additional state regulation changes, forced the facility to reconsider its services and address operational inefficiences, while trying to maintain excellent patient care. In 2022, they enlisted DWH to assess and identify gaps between business best practices and its current state, and to provide recommendations to bridge these gaps to facilitate the improvement of the Organization’s operating and financial performance.

The Solution:

DWH developed an understanding of the facility by gathering qualitative and quantitative data through interviews with key employees and stakeholders; examining and understanding key assets (on- and off-balance sheet) and processes; and reviewing certain financial and non-financial information. DWH was able to identify and assess the facility’s current state, areas for improvement and provided recommendations that were divided into three main areas of (1) Leadership, (2) Finance and Management Information, and (3)Operations.

The Outcome:

DWH was able to identify gaps and make best practices recommendations to close those gaps. We developed and prioritized “Next Steps” for the organization including quick-win items to create momentum within the organization and longer-term projects to become part of strategic planning. Finally, the facility received a 13-week cash flow forecast summary to help with cash management, decision-making, and communication with key stakeholders.



As a group of financial and business professionals, DWH offers expertise and support so companies can embrace change for the better. Built on a core philosophy that every stakeholder matters, we listen to those who shape a business and guide that business to its best value, outcomes, and opportunities. All companies experience change. Plan for it with us.


A Case Study in Ensuring Financial Resilience

The Situation:

A Michigan-based manufacturing company specializing in assembling products in the industrial, automotive, office furniture, and commercial appliance industries is known for delivering precision-engineered manufacturing solutions for its customers. The company hired DWH as a requirement of its bank for them to engage a third party to evaluate current financial projections, perform a stress test on these forecasts, and assist with developing or enhancing tools and processes to support future growth.

The Solution:

DWH evaluated the company’s working capital model, annual budgets and forecasts, and a 13-week Cash Flow forecast by gathering underlying qualitative and quantitative data collected through interviews with key employees and stakeholders, examining and understanding critical assets and processes, and obtaining and reviewing certain financial and non-financial information. This data formed the basis for understanding the financial state of the business and allowed DWH to assess the company’s financial resilience by conducting a series of hypothetical scenarios simulating various economic and market conditions, using the financial information and models provided.

The Outcome:

After researching and collecting extensive financial data from the company and performing the stress test scenarios, DWH delivered detailed recommendations for the company. These recommendations include best business practice guidelines and future risk mitigation strategies based on an analysis of its current financial situation and projected growth in the future. The company now has a full understanding of its financial resilience.



Managing Cash Flow Amidst Disruptions

Disruptions can happen to a business at any given time, which can turn business operations upside down. One type of business disruption is when one of your suppliers or customers files for bankruptcy.

DWH Partner, Jeremy Cosby discussed this type of business disruption in a recent interview and shared his thoughts on how businesses can navigate through this type of situation to help ensure they come out on top.

1. Proper Cash Flow Management

Cash flow is always important, even more so in times of change and transition. It is important to understand the potential scenarios that could affect the cash that you need to run your business.

Managing cash flow, whether it’s a bankruptcy, strike, pandemic, etc., and understanding the levers you can pull to control your cash flow, will help you navigate through that transition. Having good cash flow management means you have tight control over what’s going on, both in the past and the future. Doing thorough scenario planning in advance will allow you to navigate challenges when they arise.

2. Understand Different Scenarios That Could Affect Cash

A business owner needs to understand the different scenarios that could affect the cash that is needed to run the business. For example, in a supplier or customer bankruptcy, the client needs to understand how their supply chain or customer will be directly or indirectly impacted by the bankruptcy. What are the types of vehicles involved? What impact does the bankruptcy have upstream or downstream? How will I be impacted and when? How will my suppliers be impacted? Answering these questions will inform all the rest of your decisions. Typically, businesses impacted the most are the smaller suppliers (downstream) who don’t have the reserves to absorb the impact.

3. Understand the Impact of the Bankruptcy

A key element in proactively protecting your cash flow is to grasp the impact the bankruptcy will have on your business. One effective way to gain that understanding is due diligence. Due diligence must be done thoroughly and promptly. For example, if you are concerned one or more of your suppliers is financially distressed, then spend the time to develop alternative supply sources. If you are concerned a customer is financially distressed, then closely manage your outstanding accounts receivable.  Doing this proactively can put you in a better position with suppliers, with customers, and leverage tools and resources.

The quicker you understand the impact, the sooner you can take action.

4. Have a Well-Prepared Strategy

Remember that managing cash flow during a significant disruption is a temporary challenge. It requires flexibility, creativity, and strong financial planning. Having a well-prepared strategy can help your business weather the storm and emerge stronger on the other side.

DWH has helped hundreds of businesses improve liquidity by helping them understand the way cash flows through the organization from invoice to invoice. We can help you too. Book a consultation to get started.


Originally posted on June 1, 2021, by Jeremy Cosby | LinkedIn

All companies experience change.
Plan for it with us.



If you found this topic interesting, our strategic partner, JACO Advisory Group published content you may find relevant as well: “How a 13-Week Cash Flow Forecast Model Can Benefit Your Business” and “13-Week Cash Flow Forecast – A Day-to-Day Cash Management & Longer Term Operational Planning Tool


Meet Our Newest Team Members

Lyndon Grooters | DWH Senior Financial Analyst

For most of his career, Lyndon has focused on costing, pricing, and analytics in manufacturing and family-owned settings. He has led projects that range from building highly interactive sales dashboards to overhauling quote models and methodology. He earned his BBA in Finance from Grand Valley State University. In previous roles, Lyndon has been responsible for researching, understanding, and summarizing costs, providing strategic price recommendations to leadership teams, and performing a range of financial analyses, including forecasts and sensitivity analysis. He improves decision-making and draws insights through financial modeling, KPIs, and dashboarding. At DWH he focuses on cost analysis, cash flow modeling, and data visualization. Lyndon and his wife, Mattie, live in Grand Rapids with their dog, Leo, and two cats, Merlin and Arthur. Find out more about Lyndon by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.


Andrew Knowlton | DWH Senior Director

Andy Knowlton has more than 35 years of experience in leading finance teams, managing the finance function, and serving as a trusted business partner to the executive management team.  As a seasoned industry CFO, he has worked in both private and public company environments.  Andy earned his B.S. Degree in Engineering from the University of Michigan, and an MBA in Finance from Michigan State University where he was a TA in accounting.  He continued teaching at the undergrad and graduate level during his working career.  He is a non-practicing CPA in the State of Michigan. Andy has spent his career in both privately held family-owned businesses and publicly traded multinational corporations.  He has led acquisitions, bank financing transitions, tax planning initiatives, family succession planning, and benefits strategy.  He embraces the challenges and opportunities in all of these disciplines. Andy enjoys working across functional lines bringing the finance perspective into all aspects of the business.  He has incorporated operational and finance KPIs to drive performance in a variety of diverse business units. Find out more about Andrew by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.


John Ashby | DWH Senior Financial Analyst

John focuses on financial reporting, cash flow modeling, budgeting, and forecasting in order to make recommendations to drive improvements. He also helps to identify key performance metrics and effectively communicates the data via clear visual presentations. Prior to joining DWH, John spent thirty-plus years in auditing, forecasting, project and product management, banking, and FP&A. He has a strong ability to identify actionable insights in business data, focusing on key drivers and indicators. John is also experienced in leading cross-functional teams and playing a key role in systems implementations. John holds a BA in Economics from Whittier College and an MBA with a specialization in Finance from the University of Notre Dame. Find out more about John by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.


Jonathan Coe | DWH Director

Jonathan Coe, Director, has more than 30 years of experience in finance, accounting, and management. He earned his B.A. in Accounting from Hope College and an MBA from Grand Valley State University. Jonathan’s career has spanned different value chains including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, telecommunications, and both OEM and aftermarket automotive. Throughout his career, Jonathan has specialized in FP&A, financial reporting (both US GAAP and IFRS), project accounting, and risk management.  Most recently, Jonathan was the CFO for SoundOff Signal, a mid-market private manufacturer of emergency lighting for first responders where the company more than doubled in size in his six years as CFO.  He is on the finance committee for Habitat for Humanity and has held different leadership positions at his church. He has also been involved with teaching various Junior Achievement classes. Jonathan assists our clients to optimize their organization’s financial performance via strategic planning, financial leadership development and coaching, due diligence, and profitability/cash flow improvement. Find out more about Jonathan by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.


Rob Heitmeier | DWH Senior Director

Rob Heitmeier has over 30 years of experience in executive leadership, financial and corporate management, strategy development, mergers and acquisitions, and business management. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Michigan State University and an MBA from the University of Detroit. Rob works with business owners to help them understand their businesses’ fundamental problems and helps develop and navigate a path to improved business performance. Find out more about Rob by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.


Brent Smith | DWH Senior Financial Analyst

With a distinguished career centered on M&A initiatives, Brent Smith stands as an expert in turn-around services, financial consulting, and commercial underwriting. His robust portfolio includes aiding companies in navigating growth through strategic acquisitions, meticulous succession planning, and optimizing operations for distressed businesses. A proud alumnus of Davenport University, Brent holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance. His industry expertise spans a diverse range including manufacturing, logistics, and retail sectors. As a consultant, Brent’s proficiency particularly shines in the lower middle market segment, where he collaboratively works with businesses to amplify their operational excellence. Find out more about Brent by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.



Promoting Cultural Diversity During Native American Heritage Month

Powwow celebration with traditional Native American dance

November is Native American Heritage Month, which was created in 1990 through a presidential proclamation and has continued to be observed ever since. The month is dedicated to showcasing the immense importance of this group, as it represents the rich history, culture, and contributions of Indigenous peoples in the United States.

During the month of November, awareness is spread about Indigenous history, contemporary Native issues, and the accomplishments of Native Americans who have enriched our culture.

Why celebrate Native American Heritage?

As a tribally owned company, our team is passionate about protecting tribal sovereignty and growing economic prosperity throughout Indian Country. We want to share a few important reasons to recognize and celebrate Native American heritage:

1. Acknowledge the historical & ongoing contributions Native Americans have made to the nation.

From agriculture and medicine to language and art, Native Americans have made significant contributions to American society. Acknowledging and celebrating their heritage allows us to honor their achievements and recognize their importance in shaping our collective identity.

2. Foster cultural awareness and appreciation.

It allows individuals to gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous traditions, values, and perspectives, and this knowledge can lead to greater respect and appreciation for the diverse cultural heritage that exists within the United States.

3. Address historical injustices and promote social justice.

Throughout history, Native Americans have faced colonization, forced assimilation, and marginalization. Recognizing their heritage is a step toward healing historical wounds, promoting cultural preservation, and empowering Native American communities.

How to Celebrate Native American Heritage

Although it’s nice to have a month dedicated to celebrating and honoring Native American heritage, there are many ways you can continue acknowledging Native Americans throughout the entire year. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

Attend cultural events

Look for local events, powwows, or cultural festivals that celebrate Native American heritage. By attending these events, you will be able to experience traditional dances, music, food, and crafts.

Educate yourself

One of the best ways to celebrate Native American heritage is to educate yourself about their history, culture, and contributions. Read books, watch documentaries, or visit museums dedicated to Native American history.

Volunteer and support Native American organizations

Get involved with local Native American organizations. Offer your time and support by volunteering at community events, fundraisers, or educational programs that promote Native American heritage and empower Indigenous communities.

Support Native American businesses and artists

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, Native American-owned businesses contribute over $33 billion to the U.S. economy every year and employ over 200,000 people. We encourage you to seek out Native American-owned businesses and artists and support their work and help sustain their livelihoods.

Amplify Native American voices

Give platforms and opportunities for Native American voices to be heard. Share books, articles, art, and other resources created by Native Americans to promote their perspectives and insights.


We encourage you to approach Native American heritage with sensitivity and respect. We feel that engaging in cultural appreciation rather than cultural appropriation is crucial to ensure Native American traditions and identity are honored and preserved.

A Case Study in Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Culture

The Situation:

DWH partnered with the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP), a federally recognized tribe in western Michigan, to cultivate an entrepreneurial culture among its members. Recognizing the untapped potential within the community, NHBP leadership sought to empower its members with the tools, knowledge, and resources necessary to launch, acquire, or scale small businesses.

The Solution:

Instead of offering a one-size-fits-all solution, DWH deployed a nuanced, multi-phase approach tailored to the specific needs and aspirations of NHBP members:

  • Needs Assessment: We designed and circulated a comprehensive survey to gauge interest, evaluate current skill levels, and understand the entrepreneurial dreams of the community members.
  • Curriculum Design: Using the survey insights, we crafted a targeted curriculum complete with topics and training materials that addressed the unique needs of the tribe.
  • Educational Bootcamps: Quarterly full-day workshops were planned, offering structured learning experiences and opportunities for attendees to provide feedback.
  • Personalized Mentoring: For those who had successfully completed the educational sessions, in-depth mentoring opportunities were made available to provide hands-on experience and guidance.

The Outcome:

The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges, disrupting our planned in-person educational boot camps. Undeterred, we swiftly transitioned to a remote learning model. Despite this pivot, we successfully conducted extensive surveys that gave NHBP an actionable roadmap to harness entrepreneurial talents and interests within their community. All remote training sessions were recorded and archived, serving as a lasting educational resource for the tribe.



The 2023 Outlook + Strengthening Your Business

Recession is on everyone’s mind these days. The current economic climate, characterized by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, inflationary pressures, supply chain disruptions, and general economic uncertainty, has raised concerns among business owners and individuals. As an advisor to numerous business owners, I am often approached to provide insight into the situation. However, given the scarcity of available data and the dynamic nature of the situation, making accurate predictions can be challenging. Rather than share our predictions, we would like to provide practical advice to help business owners prepare their companies for economic uncertainty and navigate any potential financial distress. Here are seven steps to build resiliency and weather any storm that may come your way:

1. Communicate with Your Stakeholders

In times of uncertainty, the quality of your relationships with key stakeholders can make all the difference. Do you know who your key stakeholders are?  What do you need from them?  What do they need from you?  Some examples are listed below with questions to ask:

  • Customers and Vendors – Do you understand their pain points? Are you aware of how they build their schedules?  What their capacity is?  Do you have relationships with multiple decision-makers?  Do you understand their financial strength?  Do you regularly meet with them to touch base?
  • Employees – Do your employees understand the vision of your company and its goals? Are they aware of how their actions have an impact on those goals?  Do you have a rhythm of communication with employees?  Do you use key metrics to communicate performance?  Do you conduct regular employee surveys?
  • Bank – Do you meet regularly with your banker and their team? Are you proactive in telling them about any potential changes to the business?  Do you regularly update them on any changes to your financial forecast?  Remember, your bank is a partner, and you want to keep them informed.  You cannot over-communicate with them.  To read more about managing your relationship with your bank, see our post, How to Engage a Key Stakeholder: Your Bank.

2. Build a Strong Leadership Team

Having the right team in place is critical, especially during a challenging situation like a recession. Ensure that your leadership team understands their roles and responsibilities, is held accountable, and has bought into the company’s vision and goals. In one of our previous blogs, Effective Leadership In a Crisis, we discuss how your response in turbulent times will define you as a leader.

3. Utilize a Robust 13-Week Cash Flow Forecasting Model

Understanding your cash flow is crucial in times of economic uncertainty. In one of our previous blog posts, How to Preserve and Improve Liquidity, we discuss how a strong cash flow forecasting model (CFFM) will help you accomplish these primary objectives:

  • Predict cash flow and collateral week over week for at least the next 90 days.
  • Improve decision-making at the transaction level.
  • Improve communication with key internal and external stakeholders.

4. Incorporate Scenario Planning and a Rolling 24-Month Forecast

A rolling 24-month forecast model that includes a profit and loss statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows can help you run scenarios and see the impact of various factors on your business. By incorporating covenant calculations, you can forecast any potential compliance issues with your bank. The models should be constructed so you can run scenarios (lower sales, higher costs, extended terms, etc.) and see the impact. For more information, see our previous blog post, Business Resiliency Through Scenario Planning.

5. Understand Your Cost and Pricing Structures and Review Regularly

Many businesses do not have a process in place for regularly reviewing costing and pricing data, identifying opportunities for improvement, making those improvements, measuring the impact, and repeating. With all the disruption in the supply chain, increase in labor costs, and inflationary pressures it is critical that you truly understand the cost to produce goods or provide services and that you are regularly working to reduce these costs. Additionally, you must ensure that you are capturing cost increases and passing them on to customers when appropriate. Be sure to look at our blog about Understanding Your Cash Conversion Cycle for more info.

6. Look for Opportunities

Change creates opportunities. This may be in the form of the opportunity to acquire a competitor or supplier. It could be discounted equipment or employees that become available when another business is struggling. It could be increased volumes when another supplier can’t meet their obligations to a customer.  Whatever the opportunity, you want to make sure that you are correctly positioned with the staff and resources to pursue these opportunities.  For more information on distressed investing, view our webinar on Key Considerations for Purchasing Distressed Assets.

7. Don’t Wait to Ask for Help

Finally, make sure you’re not waiting to ask for help with any of the items above or other challenges you may have in your business. Lean on your advisors and business network for help preparing for the challenges that might lie ahead. It’s essential to remember that these steps are not just for preparing for a recession; they are sound business practices that can help your company to thrive in any economic climate. By focusing on strengthening your business fundamentals and taking a proactive approach to managing risk, you can set your business up for long-term success.


As a group of financial and business professionals, DWH offers expertise and support so companies can embrace change for the better. Built on a core philosophy that every stakeholder matters, we listen to those who shape a business and guide that business to its best value, outcomes, and opportunities.


This post was written by Ben Borisch | LinkedIn

All companies experience change.
Plan for it with us.




Strategic Planning for Tribes

Strategic planning can be a vital process for tribal nations seeking to achieve economic self-sufficiency and long-term sustainable growth. The practice is utilized as a means to establish a clear vision for the future of an organization. It touches every stakeholder and creates alignment around shared goals — ultimately, serving as a detailed guide with actionable steps to achieve those goals.

Strategic planning is made to be realistic, providing a strong and healthy path to effective nation-building. Within Indian Country, there can be a myriad of offers and opportunities that come along — not to mention scams — with the execution of a strategic plan however, tribal leaders are better positioned to identify and manage such risks.

The makings of an effective strategic plan

Strategic planning is a process, not an event or stand-alone meeting. The process calls us to critically explore, redefine, adjust, or simply create approaches, outcomes, goals, and strategies that create pathways to an ideal vision. The creation of a strong strategic plan will accomplish the following:

  • Define the key values of the tribal organization
  • Identify the organization’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Create alignment with key stakeholders
  • Develop a vision to capitalize on the organization’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Honor the unique historical context tribal nations operate in
  • Determine the tactical goals and outcomes to support the vision
  • Set priorities by focusing energy and resources
  • Cultivate the right tools in order for the tribal entity to flourish
  • Recommend ways to strengthen the overall infrastructure: people, processes, systems, and property

Creating a conscientious plan

The impact of historical trauma can have ripple effects through various systems (governance, economy, community). This can impact diversification risk/return potential and the overall portfolio management approach for a tribal nation. Without the components of healing in the planning process, sustainability will be difficult to accomplish. Healing-informed strategic planning does not require consistent reminders of historical trauma, rather it requires mindfulness (the good, the bad, the ugly) of how historical activities have impacted the tribal nation’s well-being as it relates to economic development.

Additionally, it is good to understand the resiliency factors that have helped tribal nations endure and thrive within environments (albeit environments that weren’t created for tribal nations to survive). By focusing on unique stories and core values, tribes can find competitive advantages when it comes to economic development opportunities. A well-crafted and facilitated structure can guide participants through a common understanding of historical impacts (build contexts), connect to current realities facing tribal nations (barriers/opportunities) and build off resiliency factors (strengths/aspirations) can help create a well-rounded and sustainable strategic plan.

In conclusion

Tribal nations have always been excellent planners, evaluators, innovators, and visionaries — all the components needed to have a dynamic planning process. To help harness the vast strengths and resiliency of tribal nations, strategic planning processes should combine healing with planning. When these components are effectively mixed along with a solid facilitated structure, this can create space for the most effective and sustainable solutions. These solutions are already within the tribal nation, waiting to be cultivated; and when they surface, they’ll provide a clearer picture of where/how/when outside resources are needed to fulfill the healthy and ideal vision of the tribal nation.



How DWH can support your tribe

DWH supports tribal leadership with the development of their vision and what it will take to get there. We’ll help you clearly articulate your tribe’s goals and define the action steps needed to achieve your objectives. We believe strategy touches every stakeholder and serves as an actionable way to reach desirable outcomes. To learn more, continue reading about our strategic planning process. To have a conversation with DWH about how we can be of assistance, please reach out. As a native-owned consulting firm, DWH has extensive experience supporting tribes with their portfolio management and economic development objectives.


This post was written by Don Lyons | LinkedIn