Prepare your people with baseline knowledge

So let’s start with some baseline knowledge. This is a really important aspect. I would ask everybody participating in the strategic planning process these questions. Do they have this information? You know, sometimes you’re engaging stakeholders from outside your organisation who may not know this information. And I think it’s really important and really valuable for them to have an insight. And you might have new board members as well who are just entering the strategic planning process, so you wanna make sure that they do have, what I call, baseline knowledge.

I’ve got a series of 12 questions here that I’ve adapted from Peter Drucker’s “The Five Most Important Questions “You Will Ever Ask About Your Nonprofit Organisation”. So he said five, I said, there’s a little bit more than that because I’ve included things like our social impact, et cetera. So first of all, the people that are engaging this process, are they clear about your purpose? Do they know what your purpose statement is?

Have a look at the statement of objectives as well and your constitution. Have a look, for some of you, you might call it a mission statement. Have a look at that as well. Make sure they actually understand what that means in practice. Not that they can read it and get a sense for what it is but they understand what that means in practice.

The second important thing is to make sure that they understand who we’re actually here for. Now, some of you might use the word customers, clients, community. I’ve just used customers, you know, whatever that is for you. So make sure they understand in essence, they can describe the types of people that we help.

But also when you’re thinking about the people that you help, they’re not, they’re not your only customers. You’ve also got customers, such as your stakeholders and funders. And I’ll talk about a stakeholder analysis in this session a little later. And if that’s the first time that you’ve done it, this will help as well.

Also really important to think about, but what do they value? This is quite a deep question. What do customers value from your perspective versus what have they told you they value? There’s two sides of this.

We might believe they value something, but in actual fact if we go and ask them, if we have these conversations, we’re actually finding that they value different things. And so if we’re here, be it to provide a service or a product, to build community capacity, whatever it is, whatever the purpose of your organisation is, ultimately you’re here to make a difference through people. And so, you know, you’re here to sell a product to people, a service, et cetera. So it is important to understand what they value.

And some of you will obviously do this through some of your feedback mechanisms as well. So you should have hopefully a good base of data that you can bring into this conversation. Look, if you don’t, you know, a simple survey, maybe it’s about asking a handful of people. I’ll get a touch on this a little bit more when I talk about stakeholder analysis, ’cause there’s a couple of different ways of looking at this.

What do we do specifically? So, okay, we’ve got this purpose, but what do we actually do? And this is about being really, really clear about the kinds of things that we offer or that we provide. And how you do it, that’s an important one as well. You know, I know that how we do it has changed for many post-COVID. You know, you’re looking at how you’re actually gonna deliver your service now that you know, there’s an adoption and an openness to accepting online, as an example.

So how you did it in the past may not be how you do it in the future. So there might be some amendments here, and look this might actually even be a discussion that comes up. Um, you know, so it is important to recognise that, okay, particularly just coming out of this COVID tech lockdown stage that we recognise, yeah, sure, this is how we did it pre-COVID. This is how we were doing it during COVID.

Now it’s a chance to have a think about how we might do it. The other one I think was important is for everybody to understand the financial business model. I’ll put this in simple terms. Could people connected to your organisation- draw a circle, you know, think pie. It is coming into lunchtime. I don’t want to, don’t want to make sure, make sure that no one’s thinking about, about food, but hey, I love food. So I’m going to go with a pie. Now if you can think about an image, a circle, a pie diagram and ask your people if they could actually divide that pie up into where your income comes from. So for example, I know a lot of organisations that may be a hundred percent fee for service model. So they’re selling things, they’re selling services and that’s how they make money. So others may be, you know, a hundred percent grants or donation or fundraising. So it is about saying, what percentage of the pie do you receive from sales? What percentage do you receive from fundraising? What percentage from grants, tenders, et cetera? It’s about breaking that pie up and understanding where the money is coming from.

Now we don’t need to necessarily get into details about costings and price points and all that kind of thing at the moment, but we do need to have a sense for where the money is coming from currently. The other ones that we need to think about is what impact do we have? So what’s the impact that we actually do achieve? Again, this could be, currently, this is the impact that we have. I’ll talk about future projections and trends a little bit later. I just want to focus on, you know, currently, this is the impact that we’re having. This is the space that we’re making a difference in. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re selling widgets, services, products, et cetera, or whether you are providing a free service. It, there, you haven’t, the work that you do has an impact. You know, technology solutions make a difference in people’s lives and enable them to work faster. For example, if you’re a social enterprise, employment has an impact in making sure that people actually have a sustainable economic foundation, in order to enable them to do, you know, do things with their life, to have a better quality of life, for example.

So they’re just some very, very basic examples. The number nine is what is our impact goal? And so what we’re talking about here is a little bit of future casting. Now, a note. This might actually change in the strategic planning process. For some of you, it’s very clear, you’re here to do this and it’s not going to change because actually your impact goal is very much about what your current purpose is, and what your organisation was established for. But for others there’s going to be some slight shifts or some major shifts. So it is important to have an understanding of your current impact goal.

For some of you, question 10 is what’s your endgame? For some of you, you’ll definitely have an endgame and I’ll give you an example. Anyone connected with a disease hopes that they’re not going to be there in the future because that disease will actually be solved. You know, we’ll have found a cure. So the endgame for those types of organisations is that they might go from fundraising to put money into identifying the cure for the disease, to changing their endgame to being, now we’re actually supporting people who are in remission, you know, something along those lines.

So when you think about what’s your endgame, some of you don’t have one necessarily, you are there for community, but some of you certainly will. Particularly organisations I’ll say on number 10, the endgame particularly organisations that are specifically funded a hundred percent to do one thing. What talent, skills and knowledge do we need access to? This is an important question. What do you, notice I’ve said, what do you need? Not what do you have.

In a strategic planning process, it is actually really important to identify your strengths and weaknesses and they’re definitely internal. You know, if you think about your strengths being your skills and talents that you have and weaknesses being those ones that you don’t have. So this is a really good reflection to know what you’ve got access to before you go into this process.

For many organisations that are zero-based budgeting, and what I mean by that is, they always start at the beginning of the financial year when they’re doing their budget for the beginning of the financial year, I should say, they always start with, okay, we’ve got to raise money. We don’t, you know, there’s nothing we sell, how we run out and operate our organisation is we raise funds, you know, grants, et cetera. So talent, skills and knowledge are resource-heavy. “Heavy” is probably not quite the right word, but certainly they take resources. Depends on what talents, skills and knowledge you need, I think.

And it is important for everybody to have a realistic understanding as what resources that we have access to. Because when you are starting to think about strategy, some of the things that you come up with need to be resourced. And if I understand what we’ve got access to currently, that helps me shape my thinking around what we might need to do.

If we’re looking at talent, skills and knowledge that we need access to that we don’t already have. What’s our plan? What’s our current plan? Some of you might not have a current plan. Maybe this is your first time looking at planning, and that’s okay, but some of you will have a plan. So if you’ve already got a plan, you’ve had a strategic planning, look, even if it was just a one-year plan that you did, what is that current plan? It’s important for people to get a sense of knowledge about what, you know, where they’re starting from. And, and importantly, when we look at lessons learned, it’s about saying, okay, well, we’re using that plan as a basis. The other thing that is important to ask is what measurements matter? What I mean by that, I always use this common example because, you know, a lot of people are on social media.

And even if you’re not on social media, you’ve kind of heard these things like, you know, the difference between a like, liking a post or the difference between sharing a post. So if you want to sell tickets to an event, you wouldn’t measure the number of likes you’ve had on a social media post. And you also, in this case, wouldn’t measure the number of shares of your social media post. What you would actually measure is the number of conversions. And so that would be the number of click-throughs from, let’s just say Facebook that have actually resulted in a sale. That’s the stuff that matters. Likes don’t matter and shares don’t matter when you’re talking about actual ticket sales. If you were talking about awareness, then sure, likes and shares, yep, definitely they’re a measure. And they’re a measure that’s certainly depending on what your goal is, it matters. But in these cases, if we’re talking about ticket sales, it’s direct conversions to a ticket sale. That’s what matters. And so it’s important to get a sense for what the measurements are that are being used currently and which of those measurements actually do make a difference, are a direct measure.

Which of those measurements actually matter when you think about the plan and the achievement of goals? That’s also important one, because we, again, we talk resources, don’t we? We talk about the fact that we need people to do these measurements, you know? To put these measurements in place, to report against them, et cetera, et cetera. And sometimes when you’ve got a, particularly speaking to those out to those of you who have boards, it’s important that the boards who are separated from the day-to-day understand on the ground what measurements actually matter to the, to the result. And so they’re not setting some of these measures.

Those of you who have had grant funding certainly I’m sure can empathize here. The number of times that, that you’ve heard of other organisations or maybe you yourself are measuring these things because the funder wants these measurements but they actually don’t necessarily directly get any indication of achievement of goal. So for us, for the measurements we control, it’s important that we focus on the matter, the measurements that matter piece. 


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