What to do if you have big dreams for your organization

The First, Practical Considerations Towards Actually Accomplishing Enormously-Ambitious Goals

Nonprofit leaders (especially founders) are an excitable, ambitious bunch. They are subject to dreams and visions. These can come out in the form of grand, ambitious goals. Like:

“Let’s double our donor income in the next two years!”

“Let’s expand our work to 200 countries in the next three years!”

“Let’s clear every landmine in the Balkans in the next five years!”

Grand, ambitious goals are powerful things. They can stoke a fire of mobilization that ignites the best energies of leaders, partners, workers, donors, and other stakeholders. People get excited. They get energized. They get unified.

… but then comes the matter of actually trying to accomplish such things. Not easy. Without a good plan, the excitement can drain away quickly.

Planning toward the actual achievement of ambitious goals starts with four things:

1.         Refine the goal.

2.         Determine the units.

3.         Assess the status.

4.         Consider the pace.

Consider how these basic planning questions might relate to one of those grand goals proposed above.

“Let’s expand our work to 200 countries in the next three years!”

1.         Refine the goal. What is meant by “expanding” into a country? To have a partnership established there? To have team members on site? To conduct a single event? To have ongoing program activity up and running?

2.         Determine the units. Many countries in the world are very tiny. How do they count in this?

3.         Assess the status. What’s the baseline? According to the goal as it’s been refined or defined, how many countries are you in now? What about countries that you’ve been in before but are not in now? What about countries where your activity may drop out during the ambitious three-year period?

4.         Consider the pace. If you’re in 120 countries now, how long did it take to get to that number? How many countries have you entered in the past ten years? What is your historical pace, and what is your recent pace, for adding new countries? How does that compare to the pace that will be required to meet the ambitious three-year goal? Assuming the pace will need to increase, what actions could be applied to ramp up to the required pace, for the goal to be met?

It's one thing to declare an ambitious goal. It’s another thing to form a clear, viable, rational plan for its fulfilment. But it can be done. Dream on, people.

love, joy, peace … Michael

www.michaeljaffarian.com. Michael is a freelance consultant to nonprofits, with an emphasis on research. Contact him for a free, one-hour consultation. emichaeljaffarian@gmail.com.

Vol. 1 No. 39