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  • Writer's pictureSidekick

Sidekick Stories: How Dairy Farmers of Manitoba developed a purposeful annual plan

Dairy Farmers of Manitoba continues to bring farmers and Manitobans together through a refined purpose, focused strategic plan and operational excellence.

Dairy Farmers of Manitoba (DFM) was established in 1974 as a non-profit organization financed by all dairy farmers in the province. They proudly representative all Manitoba dairy farmers at the provincial and national levels. Community involvement is important to DFM, so they pride themselves on bringing dairy farmers and Manitobans closer together.

The Challenge

Following the development of a sizeable re-branding campaign, and kicking off the development of a new annual plan, DFM realized there was a mismatch between external communications and their internal operations. This resulted in long discussions around priorities, budget allocations and day-to-day decision making.

The Solution

To support DFM with this challenge, Sidekick facilitated working sessions both virtually and in person to help the team arrive at an aligned purpose statement: Supporting Future Generations. This purpose built a closer connection between servicing dairy farmers in Manitoba and connecting these farmers with Manitoba consumers. The purpose statement was then used as a foundation for the development of the new strategic annual plan.

The newly established purpose-driven brand proposition provided an opportunity to further refine the organization’s focus, and rally the organization around that purpose.

Sessions took place over the course of three months and involved around 25 people from the DFM management team, the board, and senior staff. Our process broke down into four key phases, following our Design Thinking-inspired methodology:


1. Evaluate 2021/2022 Performance

The team first reviewed their performance in the last year. This was an opportunity to reflect on their accomplishments, considering organizational and personal wins. This evaluation also allowed the team to evaluate their performance against annual goals and define unsolved issues.


2. Understand the Landscape & Trends

A SWOT analysis was reviewed and updated to include recent internal and external developments. This analysis was a practical exercise that brought forward all the core elements to be considered.

3. Establish a 3-5 Year Vision

Upon reviewing the current landscape, DFM made informed decisions on where they wanted to focus within the next 3 to 5 years. Core values, purpose, and mission were also validated at this stage to set their 2022-2023 goals.


4. Develop the 2022/2023 Plan

These final sessions were critical to setting the DFM team up for success in their upcoming fiscal year.

First, the larger group of the Board, management team, and senior staff was guided to establish their overall strategic pillars based on the evaluation of last year’s performance, the outcomes of the SWOT analysis and the 3-5 Year Vision.

Then Sidekick worked with the management team to develop the supporting operational plan, including key tactics and measurables within each strategic pillar based on inputs from their teams. The overall strategy and plan were then presented and approved in a final review by the Board.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Bonny and the Sidekick team. Whether it is leading a collaborative strategic planning process with our board, educating us on tools to make our management team more effective, building organizational culture, or providing executive coaching – all of these have made a significant impact to our organization. Bonny is genuinely interested in our people and in us accomplishing our goals. I highly recommend Bonny and the Sidekick team." - Brent Achtemichuk, General Manager, Dairy Farmers of Manitoba

The Impact

After facilitating these collaborative sessions, Sidekick packaged and summarized a final strategic annual plan for the DFM team, including an aligned purpose statement, refined values and a set of strategic annual goals, initiatives and measures.

Sidekick continued to work with DFM to implement and operationalize their new 2022/2023 plan and purpose, through restructuring and facilitating bi-weekly management team meetings and developing a set of operational tools and processes to help keep the team on track. Meetings were designed around achieving the goals set out in the strategic plan, including the preparation of DFM’s partnership with 4 other provinces into the Western Milk Pool.

These improved management team meetings, along with scorecards, quarterly goal setting, an issues-solving mechanism and ongoing leadership coaching have resulted in a more efficient operating model, increased collaboration across departments and stronger ownership and decision-making by the leadership team.


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