November 07, 2012

Keeping Strategy Alive: The Three Simple Questions

Why is it that, despite our best intentions, the work that goes in to the development of a strategic plan does not pay off in the end? By “not paying off,” I mean the process of strategy development does not evolve into a mindset of ongoing strategic thinking. Why not? The answer is both simple […]


October 01, 2012

Lions, Zebras, and the Law of the Jungle: How Markets Matter to Nonprofits

The law of survival in the jungle is simple: you don’t have to be faster than the lion, just one step faster than the slowest zebra. The mantra of the under-achiever? To the contrary, this is the wisdom of a creature that has figured out what game it is playing – what the threats are, […]


October 18, 2011

Is Your Strategy Sound?

A few years ago I discovered a framework for evaluating foundation strategy (developed by Peter Frumpkin) that draws attention to three critical features of strategy: its soundness, the quality of its implementation, and the results it produces. The framework has proven to be immensely helpful to me as I work with foundations and has transferred […]


March 17, 2011

Getting to “No”: The Three Cs of Strategic Consideration

The essence of strategy is deciding what not to do. This idea was presented by Michael Porter in the 1996 Harvard Business Review article titled, “What is Strategy,” and has proven to be prescient in light of the current strain on the core business models of many nonprofits. Nonprofits have plenty of reasons to say […]


June 04, 2010

Best Practices: The Fallacy of “Plug and Play”

The secret to a good golf game is simple: watch the best players in the world, learn what they do, and simply apply those techniques to your own game. That will make you just as good as them, right? Of course not. There are too many other factors at play to make it that simple: […]


March 23, 2010

Why “Raising Awareness” of Your Organization is Not a Strategic Goal

It is a common topic of discussion when I help an organization develop a strategic plan: how to raise awareness of the organization.  The assumption is that if only more people knew about them, then…well, what then? The reality is that not everyone needs to know about your organization and the work that it does.  However, it […]


March 15, 2010

What is Strategy?

The title of this entry is taken from an article of the same name, which appeared in the Harvard Business Review in 1996.  The article was written by Michael Porter (“we’re not worthy”) and is viewed as a classic in business circles.  I have returned to this article on numerous occasions and always come away […]


March 11, 2010

Why Nonprofit Strategic Planning Usually Fails

One of the great ironies surrounding my work as a nonprofit consultant is that I was one of those who had little use for strategic planning.  In fact, I hated it.  Like many of you, I sat through too many sessions where we were asked (forced?) to brainstorm about the future of our organization, then […]


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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