Articles

Strategy

October 28, 2020

Crisis Decision-Making: Could We? Should We?

If you have read any of my writing over the past ten years or so, there is a good chance you have heard me invoke these wise words from Michael Porter: the essence of strategy is deciding what not to do. Nonprofits have plenty of reasons to take on and maintain a program. Among the […]

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October 02, 2020

The Fundamentals of Strategy

“Under uncertainty, traditional approaches to strategic planning can be downright dangerous.” This admonition from the Harvard Business Review was written well before Covid-19. What are the traditional approaches referred to in this article? They include any planning activity built on the assumption that we can predict, plan, and control the events and circumstances that stand […]

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September 23, 2020

Looking Forward: Where Do We Go Next? (Part 3 of 3)

We all want to good in the world. But with all the issues that need our attention, how do we make sure that our efforts are not wasted? How do we identify those opportunities for involvement that are meaningful to us, and create a discernable impact? In other words, how does an individual find his […]

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September 16, 2020

Looking Inward: What Have We Learned? (Part 2 of 3)

In part 1 of this series, we constructed a programmatic history and timeline of our organization in search of patterns or trends embedded within our aggregate program and resource decisions. The good news about the exercise is that there is only good news. The goal of the exercise is clarity: what we did, why did […]

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September 08, 2020

Looking Backward: How Did We Get Here? (Part 1 of 3)

It is not difficult for a nonprofit executive director or CEO to describe the current strategic position of their organization. To test this, ask the three following questions: 1. What services do you provide, and for whom? 2. How are you different from others providing similar services? 3. Who pays to support your work? The […]

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July 07, 2020

How Strong are Your Strategy Bones?

“The house don’t fall when the bones are good.” (The Bones, by Maren Morris) A crisis reveals our true colors. Misfortune lays bare the strength of our principles. Ambiguity tests our leadership. These aphorisms point to the belief that our behavior in trying times is more indicative of who we really are than is our […]

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October 30, 2019

The Other Side of the Strategy Coin

Recently, I participated in a brief online discussion that was prompted by an article titled, “Why Strategic Planning Sucks the Life Out of Nonprofits”. (The author could have stopped after the first four words and made a much stronger point. But I digress.). A contributor to the discussion shared an exchange she had with a […]

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September 03, 2019

Are Your SMART Goals the Right Goals?

It is human nature to short-cut our thinking by simplifying complicated or multi-dimensional ideas into bite-sized, digestible bits. Such is the case with SMART goals, an acronym for…well, that’s part of the problem: no one seems to know exactly what it stands for. A cursory search of the term “SMART goals” revealed some disorder in […]

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February 01, 2019

A Nose for Strategy

Strategy is all around us. We are conditioned to look for strategy in the formal strategic plan. Sometimes, however, strategy is embedded in other documents that we don’t think of as being strategic in nature. A budget, for example, reveals priorities; and priorities are the stuff of strategy. There must be a reason that you […]

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January 22, 2019

When is it Strategy?

I often struggle to help nonprofits differentiate between what is important and what is strategic. I know from experience that recognizing that is one is not synonymous with the other can be the difference between a positive experience and yet another frustrating attempt at strategic planning. But how do you help someone whose daily existence […]

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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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