It is the start of a new year which means thinking about future possibilities and plans. John Gardner, a scholar of organisational life, says the future, “is created by highly motivated people, by enthusiasts, by men and women who want something very much or believe very much.” This can be pretty daunting stuff if the same challenges and obstacles are waiting to greet us when we get back to the office.
Over summer I have helped Tech Girls Movement, a successful STEM not-for-profit, with their strategy and this has given me pause to think about how organisations get inspired and plan for the future. The really hard work is deciding what to focus on. And if your management team can agree on what you believe in, and why your organisation exists it really can help guide everything else.
Most not-for-profits have tonnes of ambition and limited resources. The cultural industry is great at generating new ideas and initiatives but not so great at business planning. This means leaders can have a tendency to over commit themselves and their teams - which leads to all sorts of trouble - deadlines missed, lower quality work, budget overruns, or staff turnover. One of the great things about planning is that it helps managers make the tough decisions about what to do - and what not to do - so they can be more successful. Here are some useful planning templates from Bridgespan to help you keep it real.
Of course, all good plans are informed by analysis, and for some good ideas on how you can use evaluation to inform strategic planning check out the latest blog from Tandi Palmer-Williams at Patternmakers.
The most successful leaders keep learning as fast as the world is changing. A big part of this is about being prepared to take risks and step outside your comfort zone. Ask yourself, when is the last time you did something for the first time?” And I am not talking about trapeze (long story), I mean asking your audience what they think, trialling a new program, or pursuing a new partnership? I was interested to see that Arts Queensland is doing road map planning for the Sunshine State, and raised the idea of supporting funding models like social enterprise and social impact funding which seems promising.
With the right attitude (and good planning) I believe you can make your own luck. But I still treasure my "Excellent Fortune" from the Senshoji Shrine in Asakusa, Tokyo, which is firmly stuck on our fridge to make me smile.