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Cornell Lab of Ornithology Strategic Planning

Meridian helped a preeminent bird research laboratory amplify its impact by guiding its leaders and staff to develop new action areas and strategic goals.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (hereafter referred to as the Lab) is one of the world’s premier research labs working to protect biodiversity by increasing our understanding of birds and other wildlife. Faced with an upcoming leadership transition—and recognizing a growing desire to increase its global impact—the Lab called on Meridian for guidance in developing a five-year strategy. 

We facilitated rich discussions between organizational leadership, staff, and partners to identify fresh goals and impact areas. With our strategic advice and facilitation expertise, the Lab has embarked in an innovative, exciting new direction—with strong, crucial support from its staff and partners.

The Lab was at a critical juncture in its more than 100-year history. It needed a trusted third party to engage its large staff and partners in the daunting task of creating a new strategic plan, and it also needed an expert advisor to help identify new goals and opportunities. Meridian’s track record met both needs. Over the course of a year, we conducted extensive interviews, facilitated Board and staff leadership meetings, drafted major components of the strategic plan, and provided ongoing consultation to key Lab staff.

Ultimately, we brought fresh perspectives and our own strategic planning expertise to the project, while ensuring that it was grounded in ideas from within. Our work culminated in an ambitious five-year strategy, but it also improved internal teamwork and alignment. With renewed momentum, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is using its new plan to advance bird protection and biodiversity through science, data-driven solutions, and creative public engagement.