On Wednesday April 11, OTUS Group hosted our first The Floor Is Yours – Round Table Session. We were pleased to host seven senior executives from community based non-profits from the social, health care and business support sectors. The purpose of the session was to offer a round table forum to discuss the key issues facing community based non-profits today and to share some lessons learned from an OTUS expert while creating opportunities for information sharing.
The session on Wednesday was hosted by Francis Loughheed, OTUS expert in strategic planning, who has a broad background in non-profit and public sector management. Following introductions the participants were asked about their key strategic management challenges. Going around the table, participants shared common issues:
- Alignment between corporate strategic plans and day to day business objectives
- Financial capacity and resources to meet long term goals
- Buy in by the Board, management and staff
- Alignment between mission, vision and mandate
- Promoting clarity in communicating the mission, vision and mandate to stakeholders
In general, it didn’t matter the sector, all of the executives shared similar frustrations and challenges.
Francis shared some lessons he has learned from working with some of the leading non-profits. In particular, his model of an integrated planning process called Results Based Strategic Management (RBSM). One of the key concepts of RBSM is the concept of the Change Agenda (guided by the Vision and requiring leadership) and the Sustaining Agenda (guided by the Mission and requiring Management). The participants all agreed there is a dynamic tension between working on the strategic management of the organization and the day-to-day functions. In a number of organizations, the pressures of the day to day often overwhelm the desire to think strategically.
As the discussion evolved, several key points emerged:
- As corporate executives we need to take time to do both strategic management thinking and operational direction – there are definitely two hats to wear.
- One of the keys is to give ourselves, as executives, permission to take the time to do the strategic part.
- We need to ensure that we are building teams that understand the alignment of their work to the strategic direction of the organization. That the Board is involved and has buy-in.
- That using an integrated strategic management approach like RBSM is useful in putting the right pieces in the right place to ensure we are connecting all of the dots; strategy, operational planning, reporting and performance measurement.
- That at the end of the day, the ability to tell a compelling performance story is essential to attracting resources and funding our organizations to fulfill our mandate, vision and mission.
The two hour session went by quickly, but the summary comments have encouraged us to do this again. Many of the participants said one of the best parts of the discussion was learning that they were not alone in their issues and sharing ideas has given them some new ways to think about their work.
Based on this first session, we look forward to doing more. If you would like to participate in one of our round table discussions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make sure you get advance notice of our upcoming events.