Excellence in Not for Profit Strategy and Organisation Development

Welcome to an occasional series of e-newsletters aimed at informing, inspiring and keeping you updated on latest not for profit management practice. This first newsletter sets out tips for developing and delivering high impact organisational strategy.

1. Develop Strategic Thinking

Successful strategies start and end with smart strategic thinking. Regularly provide opportunities for your trustees, staff, volunteers and beneficiaries to understand and explore strategic drivers and implications. Encourage cross-functional discussions so people can share perspectives and come up with organisation wide responses together. Contrary to popular practice, developing strategy should not be a time consuming, paper process which takes you away from the day job but a creative process which harnesses resources and moves the organisation forward.

2. Know Thyself - Play to your strengths

Start from what you know you are good at. Consider your organisational culture and structure and develop a strategy which plays to your strengths. If people enjoy service delivery, entrepreneurism and a hands-on approach then a strategy based on desk bound research and analysis is going to be at best, difficult to implement.

3. Think past the funders.

Resist the temptation to develop a strategy to please a particular set of stakeholders. Funders are hugely important stakeholders, and you’ll want to consider their priorities when deciding on your strategic direction. But a strategy and objectives written solely for their benefit and with little regard for what you are good at will not work. Consider what your beneficiaries need or what your cause is, consider who else is operating in the field and in that context identify what your organisation can deliver.

4. Know your sector…inside out

The most successful strategies are by people who have an intimate knowledge of the field. They know the key players, the trends, the movers, shakers, the things that work and those that don’t. Identify your sector experts and get them on board. Know who else is working in your field and what their strengths are. If your strategy overlaps explore the potential for collaboration.

5. Use frameworks appropriately

There are some great strategy frameworks out there but don’t be driven by them. They exist to prompt thinking, spark discussion and to help people identify and explore strategic issues. But they do not give you the answer. Pick and choose the frameworks that work for you.

6. Consult, consult, consult ….and then make a decision

Consultation is at the heart of our sector but leadership is critical to making high imp,act strategies work. Consult widely but be clear about the boundaries of that consultation from the start. Once you have consulted do not be shy of making the decision.

7. Evidence your discussions

Strategic planning will spark some great discussions and uncover some interesting facts about your organisation. Document and evidence this. Not only will this be useful later on as a reminder as to how your strategic thinking developed, you may well find such information useful for other purposes.

Strategy

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