How to Develop a Strategy for Your Non-Profit or Social Enterprise (part 3)

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We continue this week with part 3 of Strategy Development. In the last article (part 2), we covered the importance of strategy, who is responsible for developing strategy in the organization and how to approach strategy is you only just started your non-profit /social enterprise.

If you are just joining us and haven’t read that article yet, you might want to catch up on those insights before continuing with this one so that we can both be on the same page. Click here to read it now!

So lets dive into today’s article as we look into when strategy should be developed (Timing), and how to tell when an organization has strategy.

The Timing of Strategy

When should strategy be developed for a Non-profit/Social Enterprise?

Yesterday.

If you haven’t done it, once you realize it’s missing you should start. Ideally, the timing for strategy development should be at the end of your typical financial year in preparation of the coming financial year. This is a good time to come together and rethink your operations as an organization.

Are you succeeding? Are you meeting your goals? Are your KPIs being met? Do you need to set new goals? What can you do better? What can you change totally? These and many more are some of the questions to ask.

When done properly, you come up with a process to guide everything you intend to do in the new year. And at the end of the year, you can look back and review how far you have come and then plan for the next year. While setting your strategy over the course of a year, you don’t have to wait till the end of the year to review how well you are doing as an organization; you should have quarterly intervals to review your progress.

It’s important for an organization to revisit their strategy yearly because of the dynamic nature of the target audience you exist for. The people you are trying to help are not constant, they are always changing. The environment where they live in is also changing; all these variables will impact your strategy one way or the other during the course of the year. So by constantly revisiting your strategy yearly, your organization is in touch with current realities of the people it serves.

The extent to which you review your strategy annually will be dependent on how volatile your target market is. From experience, you won’t need to overhaul the whole strategy 100 percent. In most cases, you might only modify some aspects of it. For instance, if your cause demands that you move about from city to city or state to state or country to country; you would still have your broad strategy but will need to adapt it to the new places you go.

In order to accommodate this volatility in the market, organizations have broken down their strategies into long term, medium and short term. Allowing them some room to adapt to changes in the market as they progress on their cause. In the end, strategy development is not static, it’s a dynamic process.

The Proof of Strategy

How can one tell if an organization has a strategy or not?

On a surface level, if an organization is succeeding on their goals, objectives and mission, then you can say they have a strategy. To a large extent, success is the proof of strategy at work in any organization. If you are constantly succeeding, then that means you are getting some things right and that can only mean you have a strategy.

But on a deeper level, you can tell if an organization has strategy or not when you can see a deliberate pattern in their actions. This is the interconnectivity between all that they do leading to one defined outcome over time. Because strategy is not happenstance, when it is present in any organization, you will see some level of harmony in their operations. When you take a closer look at how they do things in such organizations, you will notice a sequence of interconnected activities that didn’t happen by accident. All their activities are flowing towards a particular direction and not haphazard.

This harmony of activities is born out of the clarity of their goals and key performance indices (KPIs). As a general management saying goes, “what doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get done”. So once you see an organization with very clear goals and have clear processes on how to measure the performance of the activities carried out towards the achievement of those goals, such an organization has strategy.

For instance, going back to our analogy of feeding the hungry in displaced settlements; if such organization suddenly announces collaboration with Nigerian Railway Corporation and Obasanjo Farms. This is a clear indication that they are strategic about their mission to feed the hungry. You can see the connection of the railway as a low-cost food transportation channel and Obasanjo farms as the source of the food. Such moves are not coincidental, they are pre-thought out moves during the strategy development process of such an organization.

Conclusion

So there you have it! Next week we shall continue with part 4 of the first step to sustainability and growth to cover the following:

  • Is developing a strategy a guarantee of success?
  • When strategy fails, what next?

SEE YOU AT THE COMMENTS. CHEERS!

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