The Challenge

Minnesota Independent School Forum (MISF) is a growing organization that connects and strengthens Minnesota’s independent and private schools. They had a solid vision, but the last time their leaders created strategic priorities was over seven years ago, and the landscape has completely changed. They knew that it would be wasted effort to write another seven-year strategic plan. They needed the ability to stay focused on their long-term impact, while being responsive to change. Leaders were ready to shift to a more agile and adaptive approach to strategy and wanted a lean process to go along with it.

The Solution

MISF partnered with the Olson Group to learn how to activate agile strategy. Our goals were to:

  1. Cultivate an agile mindset across the entire organization
  2. Engage stakeholders to co-create strategic priorities
  3. Build the capacity of the team to make and manage action commitments.
  4. Develop the tools and practices that allow MISF to dynamically adapt to emerging priorities.

Project Priority Breakdown

  • Stakeholder Engagement 35% 35%
  • Leadership Training 25% 25%
  • Strategy Sprints 20% 20%
  • Data-Informed Decision-Making 15% 15%
  • Practical Consulting 5% 5%

The Results Were Impactful

“Brandi kept us focused. She also had a keen ability to narrow our discussion to the key priorities and bring finality and consensus to the work. Brandi did not place a template or previous plan on us – she allowed us to develop the plan, priorities and direction that was best for us and our community.

As we have shared our plan with our stakeholders, it is clear our members can see themselves in the plan and reaffirms our mission of serving them. The process and the strategic playbook we created are exceptional. The final product has enabled us to be nimble, while constantly keeping the larger goal in view.” 

Tim Benz

President, Minnesota Independent School Forum


“It’s been a pleasure to collaborate with Brandi on our Social and Emotional Learning initiative over the last few years. She helped create our Ways of Being framework, develop and deliver training curriculum, and design practical resources especially around using data for improvement. Brandi is astute, insightful, responsive, creative and passionate.”
Kate Walker

Extension Specialist, Youth Work Practice

“Brandi Olson Consulting provided a great balance of knowledge in the fields of youth development and data-driven program design. The impact measurement process resulted in our program having a clear connection between instruction, evaluation and ongoing quality improvement.”
Joani Essenburg

Executive Director, Banyan Community

“The Olson Group far exceeded my expectations on the data visualization project we were working on together. I have been so impressed by Brandi’s professionalism, clear communication, and orientation to detail. She had an incredible vision, and she was able turn that vision into a finished and useful project. I look forward to working with her again in the future, and would highly recommend her!”
Kate Saumweber Hogan

Owner & Midwife, Twin Cities Midwifery, LLC

“Brandi came to Capella to help us define, design, and execute a plan to mature our Agile practices in our web technologies team. When Brandi came on board, she quickly came up to speed on our culture, processes, and team/stakeholders which allowed her to add immediate value on multiple levels from team role definition to on the ground coaching to executive influence. Brandi brings not only a deep set of expertise in Agile, but she also brings tremendous experience in teaching which allows her to quickly build credibility and trust with the team and foster a continuous learning environment. Through Brandi’s engagement, we have seen direct, tangible benefits such improved cross functional team communication, streamlined releases in alignment with business expectations, increased focus and visibility to priorities, and overall improvement in team moral and engagements. Brandi is truly one of a kind… I am confident any Agile initiative she is a part of will be better off because of it.”
Tracy Smith

Vice President of Application Development, Capella University

“Brandi possesses the unique skill set combination of vision, intellect, and the ability to truly listen. I’ve seen her listen to both groups of nonprofit board directors and front-line employees and create a clear map for the organization. She’s gifted at looking at your data and mission and then helping you execute the strategy. Brandi is also a joy to worth and brings the best out of any team she’s a part of.”
Dean Caldwell-Tautges

Principal at Dean Caldwell-Tautges, Senior Vice President of Business Development & Operations, SpringFour

“Brandi is a highly skilled evaluation consultant, presenter and group facilitator. She brings a practical knowledge, steeped in a strong base of theoretical and technical evaluation background, to audiences who are in various stages of learning about the value of evaluation and measurement. Her presentation style sets audiences at ease, engages and encourages a flow of interaction and sharing the deepens the learning experience for all. I highly recommend her for work with groups of all ages, sizes and compositions.”
Greg Herzog

Grants Administrator, State of Minnesota

“For anyone that needs help thinking through their evaluation- from the approach to the actual metrics, I would highly recommend Brandi. Brandi is able to think about the final product and how multiple stakeholders will interact with it. I love that she puts youth at the center of her practice.”
Samantha Grant

Evaluation Director, University of Minnesota, Center for Youth Development

“Strategic direction is too often missing within organizations, non-profits are no different. I found the impact mapping done by The Olson Group was a great process to go through and a valuable tool moving forward as our staff and board makes decisions that deliver the greatest impact. It was the clearest articulation of our work and how it is connected with our vision that I’ve seen in 10 years of being part of this organization.”
Ross Cully

Board Chair, 99 Balloons/CEO, Harvest Group

“Getting clear on the actual wording of my business purpose has been grounding, and it’s changed the conversations I’m having with customers and investors. It’s attracted more people to The Mother Love than I was able to do on my own in the previous two years. I’ve got clarity on where to invest my energy and how to shape my business in the next year.”
Rebecca Egbert

CEO, The Mother Love