“There are those who look at things the way they are and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”
– Robert Kennedy
Do you feel like your organization is stuck in a valley? Are you struggling with funding cuts, more demands for services with less resources, more demands from funders, the shift to outcomes-based funding, or how to recruit and retain the top talent you desperately need to achieve your mission? If so, you are like the majority of the leaders who want nonprofit and government success, that I speak with on a daily basis.
The good news is that as an organizational leader it is your choice whether to stay in your valley or seek the next peak. You can choose to be a victim of the great recession and changing shifts in our society and ask “why” or you can dream and achieve a new and better future. Based on the principles found in Spencer Johnson’s book, Peaks and Valleys, adopting these three strategies will help you lead your government and nonprofit’s journey to the next peak quickly and stay at that peak longer.
1. Imagine a better future. Valleys are the best time to establish a believable, yet exciting future. Ask yourself what true impact and excellence looks like for your organization? How much money do you need to achieve this? Who are your ideal funders and stakeholders? What would you be doing with those funds? What outcomes would you achieve for your clients and your organization? The goal is to create a believable future vision that excites you and your staff. This vision needs to contain specific details that will motivate your team for the work ahead. This vision will ensure that they will enjoy doing what it takes to get you there. After all, climbing a mountain takes work, even when you are in shape for the journey.
2. Finding and using the good hidden in a bad time. If viewed properly, valleys can be a true blessing to an organization. Valleys are a time for reflection, growth, and rebuilding. Organizations that quickly rise out of their difficult situations have leaders who engage in strategic planning designed to take them to the next peak and achieve the future vision. These leaders realize that planning is not enough; they have the courage and commitment to remain faithful and accountable to the implementation of the plan. To get out of the valley and to a new peak, one must move ahead.
3. Do the opposite of what put you in the valley. You cannot get out of a valley by engaging in more of the same. The strategic plan must include activities that are vastly different than the old ways of doing business. For most organizations I see, the loss of funding is directly related to the organization’s failure to adapt to changing environments and engage new funding opportunities by demonstrating and focusing on organizational performance and outcome results. To get to your next peak, a strategic plan must include steps to measure and communicate your organization’s outcomes. These quantitative measures tell the story of how your organization changes lives, assists your funders with their goals, and provides donors a social return on their investment. New activities and processes are often required for a successful journey to a new peak.
Is it time to move out of your valley and into your next peak? Measurement Resources is here to help you with data-driven strategic planning as well as performance and outcome measurement strategies that will allow you to achieve the ultimate impact and excellence you desire. Contact us today for your free 20-minute session to explore strategies for nonprofit and government success.
Want more information on how to increase funding, morale, positive press, and organizational impact? Join the Achieving Excellence Community and receive our free eBook, Ten Tips to Open Doors to More Grants (and Other Funding): Overcoming Common Mistakes of Outcomes Measurement.
Sheri Chaney Jones, President
Measurement Resources Company