Sara Mesing

Account Services Manager

Recent Posts

Strategic Planning is Dead

11-23-2016 | Sara Mesing | Strategy

Long live strategic planning!

If you are on a January 1 fiscal, you are either in the quagmire of “strategic planning” right now or you are just starting to resettle into the day-to-day after the offsite with the leadership team and the often corresponding submission of the FY17 budget.
As a consultancy, we receive requests to help with almost every aspect of strategic planning. Yes, we can facilitate the offsite and drive alignment with your executives so that decisions are made in two days. We can reset the game board so that leaders are pushed to think big and generate radical, new possibilities. And we can take the strategy that was developed by Mckinsey/ BCG/ Bain/ insert other traditional management consultancy and we can unpack the content so that tough trade off decisions are sustained over time, at all levels of the enterprise.
But here’s the catch:

No request for strategic planning is the same.

Half of our clients seem almost allergic to defining their efforts as strategic planning. The other half willingly embrace that title. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this pattern. Our clients come from organizations big and small, corporate and non-profit—everyone is all over the board in how they describe this annual, or three-year, or five-year business ritual.

Logically, it follows that no approach to strategic planning is the same either.

Invariably, there are the long semantic rabbit holes of defining purpose versus mission versus values versus vision. Then there are questions about business model versus operating model, and strategy versus the “Strategic Roadmap.” Every organization has their own vernacular and cultural norms that they bring to these terms.
As consultants, we have watched and observed with fascination. A defining logic always emerges. Decisions are made. Marching orders are given. Budgets are submitted. And then we all go through it again next year, or in three years, or in five years. Godspeed.

Stay tuned for XPLANE’s point of view on strategic planning with the release of our Strategy Planning Product slated for Q2 2017. 
Click here to get on the waitlist for the Strategy Planning Product.

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The XPLANE Store has Arrived!

09-23-2016 | Sara Mesing | News

Shop our collection of card decks, games, workshops, and other tools to help leaders and changemakers make meaningful impact in the world and within their organizations.

Visit to shop now.

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Approaching the Strategic Plan — Thoughtfully

02-22-2016 | Sara Mesing | Strategy
In January 2015, we received an RFP asking for help developing a five-year strategic plan. As an organization that believes in the power of human-centered
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XPLANE Partners with Design for America on their 2015 Strategic Journey

01-04-2016 | Sara Mesing | News

This year, we had the chance to work with our friends at  Design for America to visualize their 2015 Strategic Journey. Our teams joined forces to outline all of the activities and parts that make up the Design for America experience for both newcomers and current DFAers. Read more about the session and view the final journey map on the Design for America blog here.

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Surviving the Big One: Visual Thinking Through the End of the World

09-24-2015 | Sara Mesing | News
Did you read that article in The New Yorker about how the big Portland earthquake will destroy our beloved Pacific Northwest paradise? Yeah, we did too. So
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Gamestorming User Experience—Because You Can

User Experience at XPLANE is based upon two fundamental beliefs: First, we believe in expanding the definition of users. Often, in our client work, this means expanding users to include the most critical asset in your organization, your employees. Second, we believe that making real change to benefit users is infinitely possible with the right story.


We took ourselves to task on both fronts with this quarter’s VTS (Visual Thinking School) event. Portlanders from near and far came out to play with us, literally! We developed a game for the event and dialed it 11 so that we were at a level of ridiculous and silly that everyone enjoyed.
Users were not only employees, but expanded to include your grandmother Florence; Antonio, the single dad; Stacy, a TSA representative; and Sergei, an Uber driver, among others.

Participants were split into teams and thus commenced an evening of Useroply, a game designed to build foundational empathy and advocacy skills at lightening speed.

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Design MBAs - They’re Real

Design education embedded into MBA curriculum? Yes, and in Cleveland, Ohio no less.   XPLANErs Patrick Dodson and I were in the heartland for client
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XPLANE Hosts Open House for DWP 2014

XPLANE is a business design consultancy. The definition of what we do is a result of the evolution in the definition of the word, ​&ldq
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Design Week Portland 2014 1

09-20-2014 | Sara Mesing | Test 1
You are invited to XPLANE's Open House Monday, October 6 from 4p-7p! Bring your thinking cap and your opinions. This event will be participatory a
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Design Week Portland 2014

09-20-2014 | Sara Mesing | News

You are invited to XPLANE's Open House Monday, October 6 from 4p-7p! Bring your thinking cap and your opinions. This event will be participatory and co-created with Portland’s own design talent, freelancers, contractors, and whoever else shows up at our door.
XPLANE is a business design consultancy. We help large organizations clarify, communicate, and achieve their goals. What we do and how we do it is a result of an evolution of the definition of the word “design.” Our definition of what we do includes our view on what behaviors are called upon to design for clarity, alignment, and results in business. Through the showcase of these behaviors that we rely on for client work, we want you to walk away with an understanding of what design consulting is, how XPLANE approaches it, and where you might fit.

We look forward to seeing all of you awesome people durning Design Week Portland!

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