The Power of Disruptive Thinking

While I believe completely in the value of, and need for, nonprofits to have a strategic plan, the process and the plans themselves are, frankly, usually boring.  Over the years of leading The Nonprofit Center, we’ve experimented with different approaches to strategic planning, always in search of alternative means for helping our clients with their own strategic planning.  Of all of the different approaches we tried, the one I enjoyed the most (and probably the one others enjoyed the least) was planning with BHAGs—those big, Read more

Where are the Level 5 Leaders?

Having just finished teaching a class on governance where we talk about the should haves and the ought tos, as well as the realities, the one that has grabbed my attention this round is the paucity of quality leaders—at both the paid and volunteer levels.  In so many ways, leaders are, for the most part, at best average, and at worst well below.

Perhaps the most basic of the deficiencies is the failure to understand their jobs.  It doesn’t take long working in a nonprofit to Read more

An Uncertain Future for Nonprofits

Among the many uncertainties of the past two weeks is what a Trump presidency will mean for nonprofits.  One of the things you learn very quickly as a student of politics is that what gets promised in any political campaign is likely to change when those promises meet the realities of our political system.

I could rattle off a multiple scenarios for nonprofits in the world of Trump, but they would have as much grounding in reality as trolls and talking fish.  In some of these Read more

Value Learning in your Nonprofit

Whenever I talk to groups about core values—those principles for how you do the work of the mission, and their importance in a nonprofit, I always use an example of one particular The Nonprofit Center’s core value.  I always choose it to really hit home on a particular point that Jim Collins’ makes about core values:  they are not restatements of what’s in your mission; they are independent of your mission.

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In fact, they are so independent that one of the questions Collins Read more

What’s at Your Core?

If you know me, you know that I am a huge fan of Jim Collins and identification of an organization’s core ideology: core purpose + core values=core ideology. Students of Collins know that it is the presence of and adherence to an organization’s core ideology that differentiates the successful from the not. As he and his colleague in research, Jerry Porras, wrote in a Harvard Business Review article almost 20 years ago, “Companies that enjoy enduring success have core values and a core purpose that Read more

In Search of the 3 Musketeers

This semester I’m teaching two graduate classes: a class in nonprofit management in La Salle’s MBA program and one nonprofit management in our Masters in Nonprofit Leadership program. While I’ve taught each of these classes before, I’ve never taught them simultaneously. In both classes, though I have a bit of a different approach, I have the same end goal: like Jim Collins, I want these future leaders not to think about what is a great nonprofit organization as opposed to a great for-profit organization, but Read more

Mission Ridiculous

In association with an assignment to research and critique three mission  statements, one of my students recently pointed out that the Stanford Social Innovation Review recommends eight word mission statements as the ideal standard.  Seriously?

She also noted some findings from TopNonProfits.com that examined the mission statements of 50 organizations on its top 100 nonprofits list.  A few of its key findings?

15.3:  the average number of words in the mission statements of these organizations

2: words in the shortest mission statement

235:  words in the longest mission statement

Again, Read more

Makings of Great Leaders

Recently, my brother became the CEO of a rather large, international, publicly traded company.  And when I received my first e-mail from him over his new signature, I was a little surprised to see that he was still using the diminutive version of his name.  So, I shot him an e-mail back saying I would have thought he’d now switch to his “real” name.  His response came back equally quickly, stating, “God, no.  Imperious, egocentric corporate cultures are the hobgoblins of hurting companies.”

My brother and Read more