15 very interesting lessons learned identified by NonProfit With Balls in 2015.
- An organization not built on strong values will crumble like dried hummus.
- An elephant in the room is most destructive when it is ignored.
- Diversity means differences, including of perspectives.
- There is more than one way to do activism.
- Anyone of any age can be totally awesome or totally crappy.
- The perception of who is leading matters as much as who is leading.
- Bigotry is like getting something stuck in your teeth.
- Not taking risks is one of the biggest risks of all.
- If there’s writing on the wall, don’t whitewash it.
- We cannot compare a nonprofit platypus to a for-profit porcupine.
- When we use silver bullets, we often shoot ourselves in the foot.
- Donors are looking for authentic partnerships.
- The squeaky wheel gets the worm, and it is inequitable.
- If no one is listening, it’s probably because you’re not either.
- A unicorn in the hand is worth two working in real estate.
Do yourself a favour, have a laugh and learn!
Many organisations assume that the best way to increase their impact is to scale up – get bigger, service more areas, reach more people. But what if the answer lies in thinking differently, not thinking bigger? What role will your not-for-profit organisation play in the overall solution to the problem you set out to tackle?
In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Endgame Theory authors Alice Gugelev and Andrew Stern proposed six possible endgames:
- Sustained service: You keep on doing what you’ve always done. This is the default endgame for many not-for-profits – yet it’s not always the right one
- Open source: You invest in research and development, then share what works by serving as a knowledge hub for other organisations
- Replication: You demonstrate what works, then persuade other not-for-profits to deliver it
- Government adoption: You demonstrate what works, then persuade the government to deliver it
- Commercial adoption: You demonstrate what works, then persuade private companies to deliver it
- Mission achievement: You achieve your mission, and the job is done, everywhere, for all time. This only works if your mission is well defined and plausibly achievable – for example, “to eradicate malaria”.
So, if you’re a not-for-profit organisation, what’s your endgame?
The Institute of Company Directors Australia is putting on two November seminars only in Melbourne and Sydney featuring the article’s co-author, U.S.-based social entrepreneur and impact acceleration expert Alice Gugelev. More information can be obtained here.
Had 1 fantastic jam-packed day of learning at the Our Community Institute of Community Directors’ Board Builder Conference (Moonee Valley Racetrack, 23/Feb/2015):
- Some awesome presentations on NFP mergers, Crisis Management, Fundraising, Board Recruitment, ICT security, and People Management
- Some fabulous opportunities to network with 400+ not-for-profit board members and CEOs
- A challenging lunchtime presentation from one of Australia’s most prominent futurists, Dr Peter Ellyard
- Several chances to pick the brains of a number of not-for-profit governance experts during 2 provocative panel sessions
- Some great take-aways from the Commonwealth Bank and Moores Legal.
Some heresy from David Brendel from the Harvard Business Review who reports that compelling new research reveals that “less is more” for human brains—and that mental downtime should be among our highest priorities.
If you aren’t making progress on that to-do list or performing up to the level you need to, here are five tips for getting downtime so that you can perform better than ever:
- Daydream as often as you want
- Stop preparing for meetings and presentations
- Spend less time on key decisions
- Be more “mindful” than focused
- Shorten your workday.
It is vital not to have a block of tenure on the Board that is going to cause you a problem at some point. I look at the tenure of the Board as a typical curve. You want corporate memory; two or three directors who have been there for a long period, two or three who are relatively new to the board, and the rest in the middle. In that way, the Board can be gradually and effectively replenished over time. [From AICD Magazine, May/2013]
One area of improvement applicable to a lot of Boards is simply time management and focusing on the key strategic issues. The BHP Billiton Board asks and debates the following question: “If we had to choose three areas to put extra emphasis and time on, what would they be?” Our areas were people development, capital management, and reputation.
Under each of these areas we had further goals. Every year we go back and stress-test whether they are the right strategic imperatives for the Board, whether the action items underneath these goals were being met, or whether they need to change. [From AICD Magazine, May/2013]