Social Sector

Thinking About the Next Hole

As a very infrequent golfer, it does not take much to get me thinking about something other than the stroke I am executing.  When you hear professionals speak about competition, they often acknowledge that a poor result on a hole was due to their inability to stay present.  They start thinking about the next obstacle.

What are you focused on, right now?

For or Against

 I am for justice, diplomacy, thinking strategically, wilderness, professional development for teachers, bicycle lanes, cross-country skiing.

I am against fraud, disrespect, TSA pat downs, highly restricted donations, riding without a bike helmet, promotions based solely on tenure, groups that promote hate, dictators who repress citizens, 


You can agree or disagree with what I believe.  What is interesting is that it is harder to create a movement around what you believe.  It is far easier to attract a crowd by shouting what you are against.  To collect people who believe what you believe takes far more work and you need to identify the specific confluence of my belief and theirs.  If I announce I am against something, then everyone who does not believe exactly what is being attacked is a potential ally in my campaign.  The against crowd is usually driven by a self-perpetuating energy but if you surveyed them their beliefs would be scattered all over the map.  If you ran the same survey for the supporters, their beliefs be very tightly grouped.


Which group of fans are you attracting?

Harzardous Supplies Below

Where do you store the cleaning supplies and perhaps a few random hazardous chemicals?  Take a look under the kitchen sink.  I am always surprised what gets stored in this universal storage space.

It makes me wonder in what dark corners do organizations store their hazardous supplies?  Where do they let unacknowledged feedback accumulate?  In what positions do they place their toxic employees?  What passive-aggressive volunteers controls the assignments?  What program that is a sacred cow continues to be funded even though it needs to be put out to pasture?  Which donor gives with the intention of taking more than they give?  Is there a board member who has a vision that is not compatible with the organizational purpose?

What if you did a little spring cleaning?  Might it make you feel a little safer and able to concentrate on the purpose of the kitchen- cooking?   

Failure is an Option

Blue Avocado published part one of a two part piece on the failings and alternatives to strategic planning.  In my role as a strategic planning consultant, I have become more aware of assessing and avoiding potential engagements that are going to end poorly and perpetuate the idea that strategic planning is done for ritual and not for revitalization.  Jan Masaoka keenly outlines some of the pitfalls in part one.

Over the weekend I also received a link to the One Page Business Plan Company.  Interesting approach to providing a methodology and platform for implementing goals and tracking the plan’s progress.  Like all approaches, it is tool that can maximize your strategic return if your enterprise takes the time to develop compelling content.

Forward or Backwards

When reviewing history, do you do so with the benefit of hindsight or do you appreciate the realities that many decisions were made-it-up as you go.  Listening to NPR’s Fresh Air program today, Terry Gross was speaking to Eric Foner who spoke about the realities of history when taken in a real-time approach.  If you know the ending of the movie it is easy to see how the plot unfolds.  When you research a past event through the lens of that moment, it becomes a different narrative.  Appreciate that reviewing a strategic plan it is easy to see what activities resonated and others that were derailed.  Creating a plan requires a real-time perspective.  You are creating history but cannot judge your achievements until you have decided and taken action. 

Majority Role

Recently, a colleague asked for a recommendation on Twitter.  The vast majority of responses agreed with proposed course of action outlined in the tweet.  Two people were adamantly opposed and offered another solution.  Turns out the minority were uniquely positioned to offer the best recommendation.  If the majority had ruled, the result would have been far less desirable.  Can you weight your decision to acknowledge expertise?  One attorney’s input on a contract may out-weight the conventional wisdom of your advisers.

Video of the Day

A common requests I get is to recommend a videographer who can produce a short film to highlight a nonprofit and its impact.  There are few videographers with the bandwidth to meet the demand and budget limitations of the social sector, so many enterprises keep the concept of a short video on their ‘to do’ list.

The Case Foundation in partnership with the DoGooder Video Contest created a very simple tutorial on how to self-produce a video for your cause.  See the simple step-by-step process here.


The final product