A Good Day for Non Profit Strategic Planning

Yesterday was a good day with a client in Los Angeles. It’s a non-profit association with two dozen branch offices. The process was good – I helped them see the situation clearly. They had some key issues to deal with. The authority has traditionally been vested in the local branches, not in the central association office. The first issue they needed to tangle with was how to construct a more rational system that devolved sufficient authority to the central hub to enable the organization to operate efficiently.

Wrapped around the governance question was a financial issue – the organization, though profitable, was declining financially. Something needed to be done to create a sustainable business model. Happily, they had the answers at their fingertips. Many of the pieces were already being conceived – a much bigger fund-raising operation, more vertical oversight of back office operations. But several pieces of the puzzle were missing – most importantly, a strategy for front-loading the investment in new capacity. Where was the money going to come from? Second, they needed to agree on what oversight by the central association office really meant? Did it mean true performance management with consistent expectations tied to both positive and negative consequences? Or did it mean something else?

By the end of the two days, we had the puzzle completely assembled. We figured out which assets would be sold to raise the cash. We figured out a new framework for flexible governance and oversight, rewarding high performing branches with more autonomy, penalizing low performing branches with more oversight. We had the performance assessment piece in place. We’d sharply defined the role of the branch directors. We had worked on the vocabulary and messages to describe the strategy effectively. By the end of the second day, everyone had their assignments. The team was aligned. They were ready to go.

LRI’s consulting is designed to achieve real, meaningful change for our clients.

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