Nonprofit Strategic Planning

March 22, 2013

Planning for any future that could come along

I think we’re stuck in a status quo place. Faced with the rapidly changing world – and it’s been that way for a while – our strategic planning is too staid, too predictable, too standardized to plan for any future that could come along.

So, I’m constantly developing new approaches. I present my new thinking in workshops around the world. I’m using these approaches with my clients.

Here’s the big question: How can you and your organization recognize and anticipate, prepare for and respond to different situations, different futures? How can you use various vantage points (or lens) to plan for any future that could come along? What systems will you create to integrate these approaches into your work?

1. Recognize sustainable trends and temporary anomalies.What has changed permanently? What is more temporary?

2. Foresee the unforeseeable. The global economic crisis and recession weren’t a surprise. Neither is the chatter about the U.S. charitable deduction.

3. Distinguish between concern and alarm. If you’re a nuclear power plant, “concern” is Three Mile Island. “Alarm” is Fukushima Daichii.

4. Differentiate between risk and gamble. In military terms, able to get out versus no way out.

5. Anticipate unintended consequences. Identify them!

6. Imagine that the inconceivable becomes inevitable. Wow.

7. Identify the stop-loss moment, the military and stock market concepts. Maybe Greece’s exit from the eurozone will move from inconceivable to inevitable – and there will be that stop-loss moment when the inevitable must happen.

How is your planning going?

February 12, 2013

I’m #5 and very pleased!

The most listened to, most popular show in the nonprofit philanthropic sector…

Do you listen to Ted Hart’s Nonprofit Coach Radio show? Check it out. I’ve been on several times. Good information. Good guests. Good host, Ted Hart.

Today, Tuesday, February 12, Ted is announcing the “top ten episodes of all time.” And my show about strategic planning is #5. I’m darn proud. Listen to all of the top ten. Check out the other good topics and guests. Listen to the show. Enjoy and learn.

July 29, 2012

Anticipating your Fukushima Daiichi

And ensuring it doesn't happen

I’m always developing new ways to approach strategic planning – and to do governance better. For example:

— Instead of the traditional SWOT analysis (internal strengths and weaknesses, external opportunities and threats)…Consider exploring concerns and alarms. (If you were a nuclear power plant, concern would be Three Mile Island. And alarm would be Fukushima Daiichi.)

— How does something that is inconceivable become inevitable? How do we monitor and anticipate this?

— How can an organization foresee the unforeseeable? What are the processes to do so?

Use these questions in strategic planning. Also use these questions in ongoing management and governance.

Consider this approach:

What is our organization’s corporate culture that might enhance (or reduce) our ability to anticipate our own Fukushima Daiichi? How do we use top-notch management and extraordinary governance to analyze concerns and ensure that they don’t morph into alarms? How do we institutionalize strategic management and governance to foresee the unforeseeable?

Use real-life examples to explore the effectiveness of your organization’s management and governance. Engage the staff and board in these conversations. Use cage-rattling questions to generate meaningful conversation, to learn and to change. For example, use the Penn State fiasco as an example. Explore the Susan B. Komen Foundation mess. Test out BP and the Gulf oil spill. So many examples to choose from!

Read more »

May 6, 2011

Some thoughts about planning

What if you did this?

Distinguish between systemic risk and little bits of risk here and there. Systemic risk is the really big, bad thing. The BP Gulf oil spill fiasco is an example of systemic risk. Apparently the company had a history of poor safety…that would be systemic.

As your organization plans – whether short or long-range – determine where your systemic risks lie. And then significantly reduce those. Don’t be quite as concerned about the little bits of risk here and there.

Redundancy is an important thing. When there’s risk, organizations should build in redundancy for protection. How much redundancy was there in BP’s Gulf oil spill or at Fukushima?

But what protects the redundancy? More redundancy, Yes, effective organizations anticipate redundancy failure – and so build in more redundancy.

So imagine really good planning, whether short- or long-term: Identifying systemic risks and evaluating the levels of risk. Introducing redundancy for protection. Ensuring more redundancy to protect the redundancy. Yes, that’s the cost of doing business well, whether you’re a for-profit or nonprofit.

March 14, 2011

Useful distinctions

Helps us with planning

In the 3rd edition of my book Strategic Fund Development: Building Profitable Relationships That Last, I talk about RISK or GAMBLE. The military makes the distinction and I learned about the distinction during the Gulf Oil Spill. In summary, you can back out of a risk. But a gamble, not so much.

And today, on NPR, they were talking about CONCERN versus ALARM. Concern is like the Three Mile Island nuclear problem. Alarm is like Chernobyl.

Let’s use these when doing institutional strategic planning. Let’s use these when doing short-term planning, too. What is a risk or a gamble? What is a concern or an alarm? We could use these in our conversations about possibilities. We could use these in our decision-making.

Risk versus gamble. Concern versus alarm.

March 26, 2010

Is your organization relevant?

Good strategic planning makes sure

I think the primary purpose of strategic planning is to ensure your organization’s relevance. And if you aren’t relevant – and cannot change to be relevant – then you graciously close.

Good strategic planning is a process of internal and external examination. The best strategic planning means learning and change.

Key elements of the best strategic planning process include: gathering information to support quality decision making; engaging stakeholders in the planning process; candid conversation that asks the essential and cage-rattling questions; and, participatory decision making.

Visit my Free Download Library and read the handout describing all this. Get a copy of my book Strategic Fund Development, 3rd edition  and you’ll have lots more details and lots and lots of examples about strategic planning, including sample plans.

The new, expanded third edition includes chapters on: Leadership. The professional fundraiser. Creating an institutional strategic plan. Creating a fundraising plan. And more. The appendices (online; you get the URL in the front of the book) include: Multiple strategic plans. Multiple fundraising plans. Planning tools. And more.

Simone Joyaux, ACFRE, Adv Dip, FAFP, Certificate in Philanthropic Psychology is an internationally recognized expert in fund development, board and organizational development, strategic planning, and management.

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