21st Century Strategic Planning: Design Thinking as a Supplemental Process

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Kim Williams-Pulfer



Nonprofits are faced with several distinct challenges. They encounter competition for resources and they face increasing demands for program effectiveness. Additionally, nonprofits must frame their focus within a wider and more globalized sphere where new patterns of employment and philanthropic global organizations are defining the third sector’s role in the world in new and complex ways. Many suggest that as nonprofits attempt to manage these emerging trends, creativity and focus are the necessary and vital tools for growth and sustainability. Most relevant to nonprofit success is the strategic planning process that allows an organization to flow and adapt to these emerging changes. Design thinking, a relatively new term and concept, is changing the way products are designed and businesses achieve success. At its core, design thinking utilizes "prototpying" through multidisciplinary team research. Proponents of design thinking advocate that organizations cannot successfully plan without going "into the field" to engage with customers and stakeholders to understand their responses to a product or service. As nonprofits need to remain relevant and effective in the future, the strategic planning process aids in anticipating future needs. This paper will reveal how design thinking, as a concept or system, can assist nonprofits with the long range strategic planning.

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Author Biography

Kim Williams-Pulfer



Kim Williams-Pulfer is a graduate certificate student in nonprofit management in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI. She has a B.A. in Psychology from Taylor University and a M.A. in English from Butler University. Currently, she is the Program Coordinator for Horizons at St. Richard’s, an academic enrichment program for low-income K-4 students from Indianapolis Public Schools. Additionally, she has experiences in global education, diversity, and writing. knpulfer@gmail.com