Van Mell Associates Testimonials

This process and plan helped me find my voice as a leader.


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"We will receive well more than the entire cost of your fees. It's an odd thing; this is something we should have been able to do ourselves but we needed to be shown the right direction. Your program did that for us and for the first time ever we are accomplishing goals at a much greater rate than we ever have in the past. There was a day some months ago when I was speaking with you and wasn't sure if this was right for us. I am glad we stuck with it because we would not have this momentum otherwise. I know we kind of "customized" the format of goal tracking and the meetings to our own desires, but what matters most is whether we're hitting our goals and achieving results, and we definitely are. I have a management team who finally believes that we can achieve many important goals and not get distracted by the tyranny of the urgent. We just needed a disciplined and common-sense way to go about it. This really will guide our planning for all future years."

- Jeff Jaeckle, CEO, Jaeckle Distributors

"Question-Based Planning was a breath of fresh air, but I particularly value how their disciplined, plain-English approach to integrating planning, project execution and leadership development helped our team focus on producing meaningful results. Getting agreement on critical questions quickly got everyone working together on the big tasks for the year: it brought out everyone’s A game. I’ve worked with Van Mell Associates often and look forward to working with them during the years ahead."

- Tom Oakley, President & CEO

"Derrick's approach and presentation of our business plan was genuinely transformative. He recast our traditional strategic plan into a diagram form, which helped me get my directors and staff excited about the overall direction of our hospital. We're now in our second year using Question-Based Planning."

- Larry Schroeder, CEO, Sauk Prairie Healthcare

"I learned about Van Mell Associates' Question-Based Planning in my position as a director at Sauk Prairie Memorial Hospital, where it's been a repeat success; the one-page 'goal tree' really got my attention. Applying it at Culver Franchising System, Inc., it helped our management team get and stay focused on the key issues. The recession has been tough on everyone, but the plan helped us make real progress in every discipline. The managers actually enjoyed the monthly progress meetings. We rarely use consultants, but I found Derrick easy to work with, passionate and helpful. I'm happy to recommend him, his firm and his process."

- Phil Keiser, President and COO, Culver Franchising System, Inc.

"Van Mell Associates' simple tools and quiet facilitation got us moving: we'd been trying to do too much. Our first project summary showed we'd overcommitted ourselves. Our new 1-page goal tree clarified priorities and unlocked energy to focus on the big picture."

- Bob Wahlin, President, Stoughton Trailers LLC

"As part of our recent bank examination, one of the areas that is always reviewed is the bank's approach to strategic planning. While our lead examiner was surprised to see our question-based plan boiled down to one page, she was pleased with our "pragmatic approach to strategic planning." She could clearly see and understand our goals and by the use of our scorecard could track our progress towards meeting them. I would say our process was a refreshing change for her and that it helped her to better understand our future plans for the bank. Thank you for all of your guidance with our planning process."

- Paul Hoffmann, President and CEO, Monona State Bank

"I asked my staff if we would have had the growth and successes that we did in 2010 without the help of Van Mell Associates. They all said 'no.' The discipline they gave us in the monthly progress meetings kept us on track and let us accomplish our goals in a way we wouldn't have done ourselves."

- Rita Giovannoni, Executive Director, Independent Living

"I've been to weekend "strategic planning" retreats in which we were supposed to write a mission statement, set goals and create an action plan. It never worked. Derrick showed us planning is a real discipline that takes good business and communication skills and the maturity to get at the tough issues. I never want to see another sticky dot."

- Gene Purcell, Executive Director, Educational Communications Board

"We've hired niche experts in the past but never got the results that we did with the Van Mell Associates' team with experiences in different fields in different industries. We could tell they worked together well, bringing us a down-to-earth perspective that made our planning fast and effective."

- Kevin Metcalfe, Owner, Metcalfe's Markets

"We've used lots of planning techniques over the years. I can truly say Question-Based Planning process is completely new: its one-page plan quickly provided a clear path towards goals our people are excited about. We actually use it. I recommend Van Mell Associates and their planning approach even if you already have a traditional business plan somewhere."

- Jody Glynn-Patrick, Publisher, InBusiness

"This process and plan helped me find my voice as a leader.  Derrick’s leadership acumen has helped me keep our plans and projects on track through good times and bad."

- Ruth Schmidt, Executive Director WECA

"One of my managers commented that, with Question-Based Business Planning, 'Our initial 2 hour session gave us a lot of focus quickly.' The website is a great tool for generating productive discussion among the managers; the outline of questions prompted us to take a few key actions right away. This is a tool CEOs of any size business would find useful."

- Jim Garner, CEO Sergenian's Floor Coverings, Inc.

"This is not about creating a big plan book that sits on the shelf. Question-Based Business Planning gives each business focus by breaking things down into key problem-solving areas."

- Jeanie Farmer, Partner Smith & Gesteland

"When our board recommended strategic planning, I was dreading it, but Question-Based Business Planning let us do everything in plain English. The questioning process naturally led us to see how all the departments interconnect, and the benchmark goals and tasks are keeping us focused. We're already making great progress."

- Becky Steinhoff, Executive Director Goodman Community Center

"Even though things are going very well for us and the principals have a strong relationship, Derrick's focus and discipline helped us find the time for the planning conversations we know we should have throughout the year. Using the Question-Based Business Planning question grid and the question-based process we quickly listed the key issues that we need to prioritize as our long and short-term goals."

- Jim Gersich, Partner Dimension IV

"Derrick's presentation to the American Marketing Association was well-organized and professionally presented, and also stimulated an excellent discussion among peers."

- Ruth Dumesic, Business Development Director, Suby Von Hayden Associates