Articles

Strategy

June 02, 2021

Strategy Execution: It Starts with Good Plumbing

Imagine yourself walking into the kitchen of a new home and turning on the faucet, and nothing happens. You then go to the bathroom and it’s the same. Beautiful fixtures but no water. When you ask about the problem, you are told that to cut costs, the homebuilder did not include the plumbing. Consequently, you […]

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May 12, 2021

Words of Praise for My Latest Book, Nonprofit Strategy: A Phased-Based Approach to Impact, Relevance, and Sustainability

From the Foreword, provided by Susan Kenny Stevens: Mike Stone’s book, and its practical, nuanced approach, arrives on the scene just as nonprofits face one of the most challenging times in recent history.  Navigating the future, near- and longer-term, is what this book is about. For his lifecycle framework, Stone uses my book Nonprofit Lifecycles, […]

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April 27, 2021

Is Strategy Baked into Your Cake?

First things first: planning is easy; strategic thinking is demanding; both are important. And I love cake. Planning is a rational process whereby we attempt to exercise some degree of control over our world by establishing goals, objectives, and timelines to guide our work. Planning is episodic and finite, a bit like following a recipe […]

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March 18, 2021

Is Your Nonprofit Anchored?

We have all seen the inflatable air dancers flailing about in front of car dealerships. These creatures are a fitting metaphor for the experience of the nonprofit organization. Both must remain nimble, as they are continually responding to the changing external conditions. More important, neither can control or predict the inevitable shifts in the direction […]

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March 10, 2021

It’s Time to Swat the SWOT

In a recent conversation with a nonprofit board of directors, I asked how much they knew about the history of the organization: its founding purpose, its programmatic evolution, and the logic behind the significant decisions it had made along the way. Their responses were mixed, as you would expect. The most unexpected response came in […]

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February 26, 2021

Does Data Inhibit Strategic Thinking?

Data analysis is over-rated in nonprofit strategy development. The mere mention of a SWOT analysis makes me cringe. It’s not that I object to the idea behind it (which, in simple terms, is to make sure you know what is going on around you). The cringe is the result of my personal experience wading through […]

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February 04, 2021

Why Your Mission Should Not Drive Your Strategy

Too often, nonprofits call upon the mission statement to play a role it is not equipped to fulfill: strategy driver. On the one hand, if a program does not line up with the mission, it should be rejected. On the other hand, having a program that seems to “fit the mission” is not, on its […]

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December 09, 2020

Turnaround Strategy: Reclaiming Your Place

Those of us of a certain age remember the advice from a famous beer commercial to “know when to say when.” As anyone who has ever tried to do so can attest, the problem is that it is difficult to recognize when you have reached the point when it is time to say when. Instead, […]

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December 01, 2020

Mature Stage Strategy: Affirming the Core

Have you ever known a couple who renewed their wedding vows after many years of marriage? It is a beautiful thing. Why do they do it? What is the value of repeating a promise in the midst of living out that promise? Is it a sign of a troubled marriage? Does it mean that doubt […]

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November 12, 2020

Growth Strategy: Adapting to Life on the Ground

Nonprofit organizations are built on aspirations. An individual or group of people decide to make the world a better place by targeting a specific need, gap, or opportunity in the community in which they live. With little more than a founding purpose and some startup funding, the organization begins what is, in a very real […]

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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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