We live in interesting times. How are we equipping nonprofits, NGOs, and charities with the tools and strategies to handle the world in 2016 and beyond? Let's drop the assumption that strategic planning is the default solution in the year 2016 and beyond. My alternative is to shift focus towards capability. This is the key to plan implementation.
Stay with me for a bit. Think about what that means for a moment.
There's no hiding from the ruckus that we need to go beyond strategic plans.
Funny thing is that my alternative isn't to drop your plan. As a matter of fact, keep your current one.
Strategic Plan "Implementation"
The contemporary handling of this word sucks, too.
There's a common saying that strategic plans fail because nonprofits failed to execute it.
Well, no freaking duh. It's just that that isn't the end of the story. Plans by themselves won't be the catalyst for change.
When I think of implementation, I don't think about just what one person does according to their job description. Or what leaders say they're gonna do.
I imagine problems and crises happening along the way.
I imagine that not one person can make sense of all the problems and opportunities along the way.
I see people that need to learn and frame and reiterate on these micro-strategies and solutions as they evolve.
I went real deep about this. First, in The Strategic Plan is "Dead" — but the Wheel Spinning Continues, then furthermore in Strategic Planning - How Can Nonprofits Bridge the Chasm Between Strategy and Culture? and finally showing this equation:
In laymen's terms, it's really a simple equation.
What's going to connect those two elements together?
Everyone loves quoting Drucker's "Culture eats strategy." I still see the above variable left blank. What's up with that?
My alternative is to explore this missing part.
If "Asking the Right Questions" is a vital skill to innovative thinking that everyone wants — the cliche of the century — then why aren't we introducing these skills to those who are in the business of change-making and solving social ills?
Lots of reasons. We can revisit this topic in the future. But the main reason that sticks out is just blissful ignorance that other "next practices" exist. Or as Jan Masaoka of Blue Avocado asserts in her article titled Strategic Planning: Failures and Alternatives, traditional strategic planning is often used as the default yet politically correct go-to solution for so-called "change management."
The way I see it, everyone's got their ideas on:
- Participatory Co-Creation
- Business Models
But there's such a staggering disconnect between what we want, and how to actually get those things.
But without pointing towards team behavior, everyday group dynamics, and real culture changing initiatives, as a way to kickstart substantial change, it's just language to make everyone simply feel good.
Again, we're not wrong for using buzzwords and cliches and platitudes, but the discourse seriously needs to shift towards showing actual skills to make that a reality — exposure of the epicenter which will make the above equation complete.
The secret is really in how people cut across silos and form task forces to work on their mission daily.
I hope that clarifies a few things. You can sign up below.
This video also demonstrated two things:
1. Problems, strategic snags, and opportunities will rise up along the way during implementation
2. The typical collaboration "speed" organizations move at
Once you see the difference between what and how, you'll realize that there are other options available (already ongoing in practice; it just depends on where you look and who has the bigger share of the conversation, or the loudspeaker.)
Three Days to Clarity also introduces some core foundational knowledge that you need to know: A compilation of insights that took me years to figure out, because back then, everyone else was pitching the same generic advice: plans plans plans!
That's the wheel spinning that I do not want you to endure.
But we have to get real basic, starting with your meeting process.
“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”— Edward De Bono
Strategy is inherently a creative activity. Let no one else tell you otherwise.