Strategy Screen

Be Informed or Swamped.

If you are building a tribe you need to keep the members informed and allow them a vehicle to communicate with one another without too many obstacles.  The above screenshots are from 5:45 PM Eastern on November 2, 2012.  The New York Road Runner’s website (promoter of the race) continues to show a countdown clock before the race start while ESPN announces the race’s postponement.  A vital step in creating trust is saying what you believe and then acting consistently to renforce that belief.  Right now the New York Road Runners are taking a thrashing as they attempts to right the ship before a mutiny is called by those who swore allegiance to the club.  Interesting case study in action.  Having the right strategy screen in place before an emergency may have saved the NYRR from damaging their reputation.


Being prepared for change is never easy.  No matter how much we try to anticipate future events there always seems to be something that comes out of left field.  One of the advantages of developing a strategy screen (a series of filters that allow you to assess real-time opportunities or challenges) is that it provides a checklist and a grounding rod during uncertain times.

In the past week I have spoken to a few social sector organizations who are dealing with unanticipated events.  Some had a checklist in place and others are formulating one before taking action.  A well reasoned strategy screen provides guidance and focus.  It allow us as an organization to put events into context.  It aligns an organization’s thinking and response to the rational.

How has your enterprise dealt with change?  What has worked and what has caused challenges?

Strategy Screens and Basic Strategy for Blackjack

I have been trying to communicate the importance of developing a strategy screen to nonprofit organizations. The strategy screen is a series of statements or questions that an organization uses in real time to guide their decision-making. Some generic statements might read:

  • Is the opportunity consistent with our mission?
  • Do we have the resources to manage the initiative?
  • Is the opportunity within our geographic service area?
  • Does it benefit our customers?
The importance of having a viable strategy screen was tested in the 4th quarter of 2008 and early 2009 when many organizations were having multiple sessions dedicated to the survival of the economic down-turn. Still the idea of having these decision-making filters in place before challenges or opportunities arise are not always easy selling points. As I reclaimed my desk after a recent trip to NYC I stumbled across an old blackjack strategy card. Simply stated it provides conventional wisdom as to how to bet when you are the blackjack table. With money on the line this little card is a quick way to negotiate the decision-making process of each hand. Perfectly legal and sold at the casino. Finally this analogy seems to have built a bridge (of cards) across the divide and helped provide some perspective on the value of the strategy screen.

What would a strategy card look like for your organization? Do you have one in place?