Answer these three questions to find out.
I’ve spoken with thousands of philanthropists just like you, and one thing is for sure: You don’t want to dillydally. With your giving, you’d like clarity. You want to know what you want to accomplish, and the best way to do it. To do that, you need a strategy.
Unfortunately, too few philanthropists have one. They don’t know their North Star. Or they have an outdated strategic plan collecting dust. The good news is that formulating – and refreshing – your strategy is easier than you might think. Having one will bring you clarity, guide your decision making, save you time, help you take risks, and increase your impact. Guess what else? It’s your secret weapon for demolishing delusional altruism®.
First, let’s define what we mean by “strategy.” Strategy is a framework within which you make decisions that influence the nature and direction of your organization. Your strategy identifies your desired future state: who you want to be or the impact you want to have. It also identifies the most critical actions you need to take to move you from your current state (where you are today) to your desired future state, ideally as quickly as possible.
How do you know if your strategy needs a makeover? Ask yourself these three questions to find out:
Question 1: How long has it been since we created our strategic plan? If it’s been more than a year (or since before COVID-19), it’s time for a refresh. While long-range goals are great, given today’s constantly changing conditions we can only realistically plan out about 12 months ahead. And, and if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that spending one year to create a five-year plan is futile. By the time you approve your new strategic plan it will be out of date. The world will have changed (again).
Question 2: Does our strategy guide our day-to-day decisions? If the answer is “No” or you can’t remember the last time you looked at your strategic plan, you need to refresh it. Everyone in your organization should know your strategy, your top priorities for implementing it, and THEIR role in implementation. Why? Because your strategy should be guiding all your decisions, big and small. Otherwise, what’s the point of having a strategy? Remember, strategy is tool to guide decision-making. It helps ensure the decisions you make help you achieve your goals. It’s impossible to over-communicate your strategy to your team. Organize your board and staff meeting agendas around your strategy. Talk about it at every meeting. Regularly ask yourselves “Does this advance our strategy or take us off course?”
Question 3: Are we making significant progress implementing our strategy? If your answer is “No” you need a refresh. Maybe conditions have changed externally or internally, and your strategy needs to adjust. Or your tactics for implementation aren’t working and must be examined. If your answer is “I don’t know,” you need to find out! As Albert Einstein is widely quoted as saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results.” In a world where volatility is the status quo, you need to regularly check in on your plan to see if it needs to be modified or overhauled.
If you want to learn 6 key questions to keep your plan on track, download this guide, 8 Things Every Philanthropist Can Do To Change The World (hint: they are on page 13).
Remember, strategy has two parts: strategy formulation (developing your strategy) and strategy implementation (implementing it). Refreshing your strategy might mean the strategy itself, your plans for implementing it, or both.
Of course, if your answer to any of these questions is “What strategy?” or “Where did we put that thing?” I’d reckon it’s time to create one!
Developing, implementing, and refreshing your strategy is easier – and can be done much faster – than you might think. Click here to find out more.
You don’t have to figure this out alone. Schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me – we can discuss your answers to these questions and I’m happy to offer my best advice at no cost to you. It’s not a sales pitch. Honestly, it’s painful to me when philanthropy’s resources and talent aren’t optimized for maximum impact because funders don’t have clear, flexible, and sentient strategies guiding decisions. I’m happy to help you!
Could You Benefit From Sentient Strategy?
To navigate and lead during turbulent times, you need a flexible strategy. Your strategy defines what you want to accomplish and how you want to accomplish it. Yet too often, philanthropists lack clarity on both.
Sentient Strategy® is a revolutionary approach to formulate strategy quickly, to be used immediately for as long as conditions warrant, and then to make changes rapidly as conditions change. It builds a simple and flexible strategic approach that creates a road map for change and holds people accountable for rapid implementation.
If this crisis had taught us anything, it’s the futility of spending one year to create a three-year strategic plan. Strategy must be easily adaptable to achieve positive social change in a world where disruption and volatility are the status quo. Now more than ever, philanthropists must be aware of the changing environment in which they operate, and the implications of their actions on others. The Sentient approach helps you do that. You’ll achieve faster results and have a flexible template for adjusting course regularly.
- Create a clear picture of who you want to be (and the impact you want to have) in 12 months
- Identify the 3-4 critical strategic factors that should be the focus of your actions
- Create a road map of the actions you need to take to move from where you are today, to where you want to be in 12 months
- Assign accountabilities to ensure progress is made, with metrics to track progress
- Begin implementing your strategy immediately, with your team focused on top priorities
- Create an ongoing and daily template for decision-making
- Achieve your objectives faster and most cost-effectively than you ever thought possible
Kris Putnam-Walkerly is one of only a dozen consultants globally who have been certified by Alan Weiss to deliver Sentient Strategy®.
Navigate the unknown with confidence!
This free download will help you create a powerful giving plan in radically uncertain times.
So many funders I talk to lately are feeling overwhelmed (and exhausted) because conditions keep changing and it’s hard to plan for an unknown future. But while the future is uncertain, we don’t have to be. You can’t afford to “wait and see.” With these practical how-tos, you can pivot with purpose!