Are your strategic goals written in a manner to change your nonprofit agency, or have they created a grand layer of action plans that seem to take all of the fun out of your work? If you feel burdened by the activities of your goals, then it is quite possible you have a turbocharged task list, full of activities, but nothing that will substantially change what you do.
Your strategic goals are the lifeline to achieving your vision. Your vision is about changing your agency (and the community in which you operate) into something new. Great accomplishments are not achieved by doing the same thing you are doing today, only more of it and faster. (Well, maybe Henry Ford did, when he created the automobile assembly line.) However, as nonprofit agencies, we create visions that reflect the change we hope to see in our community, which drives us to change what we do.
Use change as the litmus test for your strategic goals. Reserve these goals for the activities that change what you do, and move you closer to your vision. Don’t confuse these goals with the activities in your operation, it has its own set of tasks. We call operational tasks the “running-the-business” activities. You need both: Running-the-Business and Changing-the-Business.
Let’s take a look at the difference.
Running-the-Business: These are the primary operational functions, such as marketing, accounting/finance, service development, and service delivery. When you arrive to work, open the office, update your media posts, schedule clients, meet with clients, conduct training, etc. These are all part of your operation. No matter how excited you are about your strategic goals, these running-the-business activities often take up 100% of your day.
When we establish the processes for our operation it is easy to set’m and forget’m. Processes get outdated, technologies are enhanced, and industry standards change. Are your processes keeping up? Commit yourself to a simple continuous process improvement system to keep your operational running -the business-processes running smoothly, and you will find you have more time to work on the fun stuff – your strategic goals.
Changing-the-Business: Although you want to leverage your knowledge, core competencies, and experiences when you execute your strategic goals; don’t forget, we are changing-the-business, and to do so we often need to change how we do things.
Change is, more often than not, meet with resistance. If you find it is a bit overwhelming, I recommend a wonderful book called “Enlightened Leadership: Getting to the Heart of Change” by Ed Oakley and Doug Krug. Their book has stood the test of time, and has some simple techniques to help you when you are faced with making changes – which is exactly what strategic goals are intended to do.
So, keep your running-the-business processes up-to-date and fine-tuned. This will free up the resources you need to enthusiastically tackle your change-the-business strategic goals. And, when you are working on your strategic goals, remember the point is to change-the-business. Following these simple guidelines will help you move closer to your vision.
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