Long term vs strategy vs tactical planning for your organization

planning flow chartI love Seth Godin and his ability to make you think with what must be some of the world’s shortest blog posts ever. Did you see his recent post titled A ten-year plan is absurd? I swear to you this 28 word post has been rattling around in my head for the last five days. If you haven’t read it, it is really worth the click. Seriously!
Here are some of the thoughts I cannot seem to shake:

  • Back in the days when we had more time and the luxury of being thoughtful, it wasn’t uncommon for an organization to develop a long-range plan. This document was akin to a vision statement, but it had more depth and long range goals.
  • Strategic plans were three to five years in duration and stemmed from the long-term plan. This document “chunked down” the long term plan into shorter term vision, goals and strategies.
  • Every year a tactical plan (aka operational plan) were developed and stemmed from the strategic plan and turned each strategy into a detailed action plan for that particular year (e.g. specific tactics with information on who would do what and by when). These tactical plans would commonly provide direction to development of individual annual performance plans as well as committee work plans for each standing committee of the board.

As our world seems to have accelerated and time has evaporated, it is very common for organizations to pick-up the phone, call a planning consultant/facilitator/coach like me and ask if I’d be willing to help them scrunch all of these plans into one convenient document called “The Strategic Plan.”
Seth’s blog post has me wondering if I’m doing a disservice to my clients by agreeing to help cut these corners?
Does your organization know where it wants to be 10-years from now? 20-years? If not, then what have you done during your “visioning process” for strategic planning that instills confidence that your organization isn’t simply floating from one board’s big idea to the next generation of board members’ genius thought?
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

Does your non-profit culture contain bears?


By John Greco
Originally published on April 19, 2012
Re-posted with permission from johnponders blog
bear1Two men were walking through the woods when a large bear walked out into the clearing no more than 50 feet in front of them.
The first man dropped his backpack and dug out a pair of running shoes, then began to furiously attempt to lace them up as the bear slowly approached them.
The second man looked at the first, confused, and said, “What are you doing? Running shoes aren’t going to help, you can’t out run that bear.”
“I don’t need to.  I just need to out run you.”
[Author unknown, but greatly appreciated!  If you or anyone you know has a proprietary interest in this story please authenticate and I will be happy to credit, or remove, as appropriate.]

Think of your co-workers, or your circle of friends.
Would you take off and leave them for bear food?
Would they take off and leave you for bear food?
In the organizations we work in, if we see this kind of behavior on an isolated, every now and then basis, we would likely be safe to attribute it to unbridled ambition, to competitive spirit run amuck.
But if we see this consistently, broader …
Have you ever worked in a culture where there were ever present threats, where there was a palpable feeling that to survive you needed to, well, look out for yourself at every turn?  Every man for himself?
Not exactly a culture, one would think, that drives cooperation, communication, collaboration… and not exactly a culture that we would predict would produce stellar results.
bear3But here’s something we can predict:  embedded in these cultures we will find organizational policies and/or management practices that pit one associate against another … we will find policies and/or practices that recognize and reward individual achievement without also recognizing and rewarding teamwork and team results … and we will find organizational initiatives that at best only temporarily solves problems (because they only address symptoms) without real and substantial effort and action to fundamentally address the root causes of problems.
In other words, we will find the bear.
john greco sig

Are your agency's employee performance plans full of pixie dust?

Sprinkling the Pixie Dust

By John Greco
Originally published on March 25, 2012
Re-posted with permission from johnponders blog

pixie2I was very new to the company.

I was in a meeting with the regional vice president and the regional staff.  The region was underperforming.  We were a few months into the new fiscal year, and we were already trending far short of our productivity target.  It was time to act, to get back on track.

And then I heard the action that I immediately knew had absolutely, positively no leverage.

“We’ll just have to raise everybody’s goal then!” the RVP spouted.

Huh? I thought I had misheard.  Raising a goal will help improve performance when performance is already short of the goal?


How can we make sense of this?  I only have one theory —the RVP and staff must believe that his management team and perhaps his associates are not putting forth their best effort.  Somehow raising the goal to increase the gap between actual and expected will kick everyone in gear, and boost performance.  It would be the increased dissonance that would provoke improved productivity.

I wouldn’t bet on it, would you?

What I think was really going on (I didn’t have this insight then) is that RVP and his staff didn’t have any idea how to improve performance.  They felt helpless; powerless.  But they did have the power to set the bar.  So they did what they could.

So, when on the national conference call he was asked about the disturbing early trend, he could confidently say:  “Yes, I’m on top of that; I’ve already taken action.

pixie1Action without any leverage.  Might as well sprinkle a little pixie dust!

But, beyond the fact that there’s no way that action will prove effective,  there’s another consequence, a more insidious, more harmful, consequence.

This kind of leadership produces a loss of confidence; it produces a loss of hope by employees in the ability of their leaders to make decisions and take actions that make a difference.

So, if you’re with me, what started as a leader and his staff being helpless to correct underperformance led to an action that actually produced a helplessness in his people.

Less than zero leverage.  Not no effect; negative effect.

Absolutely, positively.

Pass the pixie dust please?john greco sig

Have you forgotten year-end evaluations and performance plans during the year-end scramble?

setting the stageWelcome to O.D. Fridays at DonorDreams blog. Every Friday for the foreseeable future we will be looking more closely at a recent post from John Greco’s blog called “johnponders ~ about life at work, mostly” and applying his organizational development messages to the non-profit community.

It is that time of the year when non-profit leaders set the stage for the next year. This time of the year is always critical and tripping up usually means the next year won’t be a banner one. Here is just a small sampling of what is on the plates of many non-profit executive directors:

  • Budget construction
  • Resource development / revenue planning
  • Program planning
  • Year-end holiday fundraising and stewardship strategies
  • Working with the board development committee to complete year-end board volunteer evaluations
  • Developing annual performance plans for the upcoming year for staff
  • Completing year-end evaluations

Interesting enough, in my experience, it is the last three bullet points that get swept under the rug by so many non-profit organizations.

Today’s blog post is short and sweet because it is the end of the Mayan calendar and I have a few things to do before the world ends. So, please ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are you anxious about evaluating your employees?
  2. Have you neglected to put 2013 annual performance plans together for your staff?
  3. Have you let your Board Development / Board Governance Committee off the hook yet again when it comes to year-end board evaluations?

If you answered ‘YES’ to any of these questions, then please “click-through” and read John’s most recent post titled “There Is No Crying In Performance Reviews!

Not only does he “hit the nail on the head,” but I don’t have any personal stories that are better than the ones he shares.

If you didn’t get a chance to read this month’s guest post from Dani Robbins, then you may want to click here and circle back to her thoughts on  year-end evaluations for board volunteers. I urge you to consider what Dani says and compare it to John’s post about employee evaluations. Does John’s organizational development insights and suggestions also ring true when it comes to year-end board member evaluations. If so, what can you do to support your Board Development Committee to have “AUTHENTIC” and “GENERATIVE” conversations with their peers?

Enjoy the last day of civilization as we know it (just kidding) . . . and Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

Are you a successful non-profit professional?

Welcome to O.D. Fridays at DonorDreams blog. Every Friday for the foreseeable future we will be looking more closely at a recent post from John Greco’s blog called “johnponders ~ about life at work, mostly” and applying his organizational development messages to the non-profit community.

I just had lunch with dear friend a few days ago. She is smart. She is talented. She runs an awesome non-profit organization that is growing by leaps and bounds. However, during lunch our conversation turned to lots of questions and doubts:

  • Is she still the right leader for this organization at this point in time?
  • Has the organization outgrown what she has to offer?
  • Will she know when it is the right time to leave?
  • Is there someone she should be grooming to whom she could pass the baton at the appropriate time?

This discussion was surprising to me because she is so obviously successful, but it isn’t apparent to her. This got me thinking of an awesome blog post by John Greco titled “Success“. Since today is OD Friday at DonorDreams blog, I encourage you to click over and read John’s post. After digesting his thoughts, please circle back here and re-read the list of questions that my friend posed over lunch. After accomplishing all of that, scroll down and post your thoughts in the comment box below.

What practices and tools do you and your non-profit organization utilize to let you and your donors know that you’re successful? We can all learn from each other. So, please take a moment to share!

Here’s to your health.

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC