Strategy most often fails in implementation. With all the effort that went into developing your new strategy and writing your strategic plan, the hardest part is making the darn think work! Many donors, foundations and corporate giving programs create strategic plans to clarify their philanthropic goals and guide funding decisions. Too often, however, their new strategy doesn’t even get off the ground. Here are five reasons for this: 1. You are exhausted. If you are like most foundations and philanthropists, you have spent WAY too long developing your strategy. Endless meetings, environmental scans, self-assessments, board assessments, finding and engaging a small army of content experts, writing and re-writing the perfect strategic plan document (complete with beautiful graphics and theories of change). … Continue reading Your Strategic Plan is About to Fail
Stop endless planning and catapult yourself to your desired future. The term “strategic planning” is an oxymoron. Formulating your strategy equates to determining your desired future state—for example, what change you want see in your community, what organization you want to become, what type of person you want to be. Implementing your strategy means moving from your current state to your desired future state as quickly as possible. Planning, however, is incremental. We ask ourselves what we can accomplish a year or two from now, given current resources and priorities. And then we let all kinds of things get in the way. “Well, we have that conference to organize and that will take a few months, then we need a few months to plan for … Continue reading You Need A Strategic Catapult (And I’ll Tell You Why)
At the end of every year a consulting colleague — who I admire and adore — posts about how she takes the last few weeks of each year to set her professional and personal goals for the upcoming year. For a nanosecond I feel envy because – you guessed it – I have not yet set any such goals. Then I remember a significant difference between us: she has no kids and I have five. I have eight-year old twins plus three delightful step kids. So, while I imagine her sipping a latte in her clean and organized home, thoughtfully reflecting on what she wants to accomplish in her business and personal life, I am quite aware of what the last two weeks of … Continue reading No 2019 Goals Yet? No Worries.
Everyone relies on standard ways of doing things. From getting kids out the door to school or making the next big grant, we all need processes and systems that help us remember what’s next, what’s to be expected, and how to move forward. But sometimes things change, and we need to be able to change as well to accommodate a new short-term situation or a new long-term reality. Here’s a personal example. A few weeks ago I went to the hair salon for my standard cut and color (not that I’m going gray or anything). My tight schedule meant I couldn’t see my regular stylist. It was the morning of an international flight and my primary goal was speed and … Continue reading How Adaptable Are You?
A week ago, our country was in a totally different place than it is now. Regardless of your politics, there’s no question that we are most certainly entering some very uncertain times. Like everyone else, grantmakers of all stripes are looking around, trying to figure out how we got here and what the new lay of the land will be. Here are seven things that immediately come to mind as we consider the next four years: 1- Don’t beat yourself up. The election outcome made it clear that many of us in philanthropy have overlooked the sentiments of a silent but seething portion of the country. But while it’s great to be reflective and introspective and think about what your … Continue reading The Next Four Years: Keep Moving Forward
There are many reasons why philanthropy should streamline – excessively long strategic planning processes, grant proposals that take 8 months to be funded, board meeting dockets that measure 3 inches high – and the task can seem daunting. However, there is a way to quickly streamline…by starting small. Let me give you an example: I recently stayed at the Marriot Marquis in Washington, DC and ordered room service. You know the routine: Order food, wait, hotel staff brings it in your room, they hand you a bill, you sign it while they stand around, and they leave. Not anymore. The Marriott has eliminated futzing with the bill! Instead they deliver you the food, and promptly walk out the door. No … Continue reading Streamlining is Simple…Start Small
It’s back-to-school time across most of the country, and my colleagues and I have all been trading stories of the build up to that first big day. Whether it’s pre-K or high school, there’s always something special about starting out on a new year. New clothes, fresh supplies, seeing old friends and making new ones — all of these things combine to create that magical sense of anticipation, excitement and butterflies that makes the moment memorable and can provide a positive launching pad for the entire year-long experience. I’ve also found that same sense of excitement and anticipation in my work with funders who are launching a new initiative or an entirely new philanthropy. There is the same sense of … Continue reading 5 Back-to-School Lessons for Philanthropists
I’m a highly organized person, and can spend endless hours creating strategies, with corresponding tactics, timelines and to-do lists. But in my experience, one thing trumps strategy: clarity. You can have all the strategies, logic models, and theories of change in the world, but you won’t get far if you aren’t crystal clear inside your head about what you are trying to accomplish. Let me give you two quick examples from my life, neither of which have anything to do with philanthropy. Many years ago I was in an unhealthy relationship. For five years. Thousands of dollars of therapy later, it wasn’t until I had clarity that this person wasn’t going to change, I needed to get out, and I … Continue reading Clarity Trumps Strategy
For once I would like to enter autumn feeling on top of things: my client work mapped out for the year, a clear understanding of how to meet my remaining annual goals in these next four months, and my kids’ school activities listed in my calendar. I would like to look fabulous in a wardrobe of “fall transitional clothes,” rather than resemble Eric Carle’s Mixed-Up Chameleon in some crazy combo of flip-flops, cotton dresses, and wool sweaters. So I’ve decided to implement a three-step process to solve my fall dilemma: Purge, Plan, Reward. I’m going to block out three solid days in the next month to: Purge: Out with the old (or the stressful, or the irrelevant) before starting something new. … Continue reading Purge, Plan, Reward: Your 3-Step Process for Getting Anything Done Quickly