IT IS What IT IS: A Planning Approach

As I was preparing a presentation to fellow small businesses for the Greater Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky African-American Chamber of Commerce, I was reviewing the strategies that C H Smith & Associates has deployed with various clients and in its own business planning. The phrase, “It is what it is,” came to mind.  We have turned this phrase on its head and instead of being a term of resignation, it is now a term of empowerment.

The C H Smith & Associates “IT IS what IT IS” planning process looks at the current state and desired state of an organization through these principles.

I:  Intention

T: Truth

I: Inquiry

S: Sustainability

In the initial phase of implementing the process, organizations reflect on their current state and aspirations:

  • What is the Intention, (hope or desire) we have for the future?
  • What is the Truth about where our organization stands today in pursuit of that intention?
  • What are the lines of Inquiry we should pursue to further understand how to make the intention happen?
  • What are our Sustainability concerns around this intention?

To answer these questions, C H Smith & Associates works with clients to look at the data about the organization, its industry and markets, and capacity.  With this new information in hand, we facilitate a process to flesh out “…what IT IS” for an action plan:

  • How should the Intention be articulated in a specific goal?
  • What is the Truth about the specific objectives and tactics that need to go into action?
  • How should we establish active Inquiry for a continuous improvement process?
  • What are our plans for Sustainability of this work and how will we secure and manage the supports and resources to reach our goal?

Using “IT IS what IT IS”, one can reinforce a frame of mind that is positive and success-oriented for the organization’s culture.  If you would like to learn more or explore applying this approach and its detailed processes for your organization, reach out to me at

© C H Smith & Associates, 2018

Calista H. Smith

About Calista H. Smith

Calista H. Smith , president of C H Smith & Associates, leads the firm in its work to provide data-driven management consulting and program evaluation services. . Calista specializes in strategic planning, project management, initiative implementation, process facilitation, stakeholder engagement, and program evaluation. A certified project management professional (PMP) with a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Calista applies best practices from the for-profit and non-profit sectors to the organization's services.
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