Out with the old in with the new
Out with the old and in with the new, change is a good thing. Adaptive Strategy may not be what it once was, and it too has had to occur adaptation. The shortcoming of a traditional approach to strategic planning is the tendency to ‘set it and forget it.’ This is not the case anymore. From the Stanford Social Innovation Review, “New development from the disciplines of innovation, data science, and implementation management is teaching us that good strategy isn’t just about setting your destination and path, it’s also about how you execute and adjust over time.”
Now, incorporate this to how it applies to Nonprofit organizations. Change is a Good Thing so think of the whole ‘new strategy’ as a blueprint to build a house. First, an architect needs to draw or build the plan. After that, it takes a lot more to execute until you have a finished, successful product (hopefully a new home). It is one thing to ‘just’ draw it out and hope for the best, those days are gone. Be prepared, as electricians, plumbers, framers or you name it, make changes. It is ineffable, and Nonprofit organizations are no different.
Some key suggestions to take into consideration:
(1) Just because it worked in the past does not mean it will work or apply to today. Do not limit your horizons, widen your aperture. The world is full of indefinite possibilities. Assuming that what worked in the past will still be successful today or in the future may hold your organization from growth.
(2) Management is imperative to success. Using the house building analogy, what would a construction site look like without an effective Contractor guiding the way? Leadership is a must. What we have learned from the innovative space is about the importance of designing and managing experiments. Leadership then can assess and adapt for ultimate results.
(3) Analyzing Data Science can be something very mundane, all too often nonprofit organizations simply pass data about their performance straight from evaluator to funder. The data is vital but what would also be critical is real-time management. Information that is needed to be more effective on a day-to-day base and to adjust decision making accordingly.
(4) Communication and execution are optimal to fuel productivity. In working with our clients in recent years, we have seen time and again that it is one thing to develop an adaptive strategy, and quite another to successfully execute one. Become familiar with your current operational reality. The blueprint may be relatively easy to draw out; however, you must know how to implant and ultimately execute.
(5) Think of the word strategy as a verb versus a noun. Even in the fast pace demands of today’s business, this can be a hard adaption for some to make. It’s just as much about how you implement and adjust your direction in an ongoing way as it is about setting your vision and initial plan.
In summary, embrace change. Change is a Good Thing for Nonprofit Organizations who need to continually adapt, have strong leadership, keep open to new ideas, use technology for growth, communicate and make your strategy active.