Articles

Strategy

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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February 20, 2022

Let’s Get Philosophical…About Strategy

If the title of this article took you back to Olivia Newton John getting physical in her leggings and head band…well, that is on you. What I am offering is something a little deeper for you to consider. To paraphrase the philosopher-theologian Soren Kierkegaard, life must be lived forward but can only be understood backwards. […]

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January 11, 2022

Stating the Obvious is Not Strategic

Recently, I read a strategic plan from a nonprofit that was built around the following four strategic imperatives: Increase awareness of your organization through a comprehensive marketing plan. Ensure fiscal sustainability by diversifying revenue sources. Strengthen community and partner relationships. Enhance impact by expanding the range of services offered. My question to the nonprofit – […]

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September 08, 2021

Strategy and the “Rule of Three”

The rule of three may be the most prevalent phenomenon that you didn’t even know was a thing. Basically, things that come in threes are believed to be funnier, more memorable, and more satisfying than any other number. Marketers employ the rule regularly as do comic writers (the next time you a watch a sitcom, […]

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Need Additional Assistance?

If you are interested in going deeper into your nonprofit strategy or if you wish to review your organizational strategy more broadly, click the link below to schedule a 30-minute phone or zoom consultation with Mike Stone.

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