Resource Library

May 06, 2024

How is a Refrigerator Like a Strategic Plan?

No, this is not the opening line of a dad joke. Nor is it one of those abstract mental puzzles. In fact, there is nothing funny or puzzling about what I am about to say. Economists will tell you that what something is worth is a function of what buyers believe they are getting that […]

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May 06, 2024

Mission, Meet Strategy

It has been said that you can be happy as the dog or the fire hydrant, as long as you understand the nature of the relationship. Oddly enough, this bit of wisdom has relevance for strategy development. Mission and strategy are both vital and useful, but we need to understand the relationship between the two. […]

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January 10, 2024

Preparing for the Unpredictable: What Does That Even Mean?

Recently, I shared my perspective on the role of nonprofit strategy with this quote: “Strategy is about preparing for the things you can’t predict, not mapping the steps toward the things you hope will happen.” The purpose of this article is to expound upon that idea and show what this means for your nonprofit. I […]

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January 04, 2024

For Nonprofits, Being Self-Aware is More Important than Being Different

A staple of traditional strategic planning is the notion of differentiation. In order to be successful, the thinking goes, you must emphasize those aspects of your mission and work that separate you from others doing similar work. Not only that, those differences must be distinctive to your organization. That is, true differentiation requires that your […]

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September 23, 2023

From A to Z: Finding Your Place on the Impact Continuum

Life unfolds along one cosmic continuum, spanning birth (point A) and death (point Z). Of course, no two people will experience this continuum in exactly the same way. Some will find it relatively easy to live a fulfilling and meaningful life while others will face barriers that may dim not just their aspirations, but the […]

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August 02, 2023

What Are You Talking About? Strategy in 30 Words

Consider this counsel from Allen Proctor, author of the book, More Than Just Money: “If you can’t summarize your organization’s strategy in 30 words or less, then it probably isn’t a strategy.” If it’s not strategy that you are describing, then what is it? Chances are, it is one of the following: Let’s start with […]

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January 16, 2023

Why Staying ON Mission May Not Keep You IN Your Lane

One of the challenges in strategy development is that there are no fixed definitions of the fundamental concepts of strategy. Consequently, key terms are used interchangeably (or worse, randomly), thereby draining them of their value in shaping strategic thinking. For the purposes of this article, let’s agree on a vocabulary for the fundamental elements of […]

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November 29, 2022

“You Are Here…For Now”: The Changing Focus of Nonprofit Strategy

Michael E. Stone, Ph.D., Stone Consulting (This article is based on the author’s latest book, “Nonprofit Strategy: A Phase-Based Approach to Relevance, Impact, and Sustainability”). There is one lesson about nonprofit strategy that stands above all others: there is no there. That is, there is not a point at which a nonprofit can say, “we […]

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November 14, 2022

A Better Mousetrap? How About Better Strategy!

Build a better mousetrap, the saying goes, and the world will beat a path to your door. Perhaps, if what the world needs is to catch mice. But the best mousetrap in the world is of no value if what the world needs is a better way to trap bears. We have a mousetrap problem […]

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July 13, 2022

Are We as SMART as We Think We Are?

Who doesn’t like a pithy mnemonic to help remember important concepts? The kiss principle reminds us that simple is always better than complicated, while the fictitious Roy G. Biv helps us remember the colors of the light spectrum. One enduring mnemonic in my domain as a nonprofit strategist is the SMART goal. Although there is […]

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