Thinking like a business.

Jim Collins’ monograph, Good to Great for the Social Sectors, highlights and reinforces a thought I’ve had all along. Why should non-profit organizations “think like a business?” All too often businesses have institutionalized mindless bureaucracy and are committed to mass mediocrity. That, and they often don’t respect their employees or their customers.

So, that’s why I alway say, “best practices” when talking with non-profit groups and clients. Business practices such as consistent processes, effective measurements, and boring ol’ record-keeping can help a non-profit get a grip on their issues, identify problems (or prevent them all together) and manage proactively.

Yet, even in the best organizations, there can be blind spots. Here are a couple I see often in strategic planning (in both the business and social sectors):

1. Addiction to methodology. “We’ve always done it that way.”
Well, why? Is it working?

2. Constantly trying that “flavor of the month.” One of the things that Collins notes as a key difference between the organizations who made the leap to great and those who didn’t is: The great ones were very committed and methodical. Sure, they set some scary goals and took some risks but they stayed the course. They didn’t abruptly change in a different direction when things got a little rough.

So, keep these in mind as you build (or renovate)your strategic plan.

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