Welcome to the Wishnick & Associates blog! Please come back monthly as I share thoughts and experiences from my 13 years of work with nonprofit, mission-driven organizations. I’ll be writing about strategic planning, capacity building, executive transition, and boards of directors – lessons learned, effective practices, tips, and advice. My intended readers are nonprofit executives, board members, nonprofit staff (especially those aspiring to leadership roles), and anyone with an interest in myriad organizational issues. Along the way, I hope to pass on a bit of the inspiration I get from my clients. Please let me hear what you think, or if you have particular ideas for a future post … and do share these posts with others who may be interested. Thank you!

 

Capacity Building Readiness Assessments – A Meaningful Diagnostic

Recently, I attended a condominium board meeting to find out what was going on in our building. The condominium board had hired a consulting firm to assess the common areas in the building to identify ways to maximize space. One of the initial findings was that the bicycle room was not efficiently organized. With some minor changes the bikes could be stored in a smaller footprint, thus freeing up additional storage space in the room, perhaps for stroller storage. And this was only the beginning of new possibilities!

Over the years, I have conducted many assessments for nonprofit organizations. In every instance, the findings have been, in one way or another, revealing. This post discusses the value of capacity building readiness assessments.

October 14th, 2016|Assessments|

Executive Transition: Cautionary Tale #2 – Undermining the Transition Process

Last month I shared a cautionary tale about what can go wrong when an organization compromises in their choice of a new executive director due to search fatigue or poor preparation.

This month, I present a tale about what can happen in an executive transition when there is lackof good will among the board of directors and a lapse in honoring one’s role as a trustee of an organization.  

Often in the case with significant decisions, a board of directors will agree up front to emerge from its deliberations in unanimity. This desire to present a united face to staff and the public conveys a strong message and fosters further buy-in by other stakeholders. But what if someoneonly pays lip service to this and strays from the groupWhat if someone doesn’t put what is best for the organization first? In this scenario, an individual disrupts the organization by subverting the transition process.

September 14th, 2016|Executive Transition|

Executive Transition: Cautionary Tale #1 – Settling for Less

This post is the first of two that discuss what can go wrong when hiring nonprofit executive.This month I’ll talk about what happens when a board of directors settles for less and the downside of fatigue with the process. Next month I’ll discuss what can happen when a board member undermines the transition process.

Hiring a nonprofit executive is too important to do with anything but the utmost of careEven with strong planning something can go wrong. That’s real life. What is truly unfortunate is when an executive transition is not successful when, with more attention to the process, it could have been.

Before I began consulting with nonprofits in 2004, I worked as an executive search consultant. Among the things I know from that experience are the importance of a detailed description of the ideal candidate for a position and the necessity for patience in the process. Organizations neglect these essentials at their peril.

In the following scenario, hiring a new executive was viewed as a chore. The hiring committee approached the search with a defeatist attitude rather than seeing it as a strategic action having long-term effect on the organization.

Summer Reading – Favorite Books

Many of us spend happy hours ensconced in our summer reading. I like to diversify mine with books that are better characterized as “reading for work.” These can yield productive and often ongoing results – they’re the gifts that keep on giving.

There are three books, in particular, that stay with me and continue to make a difference in my work with clients. I often refer to them and recommend them to clients and fellow consultants

Here are my suggestions for your summer reading pleasure. I hope you find as much in them as I have.

Happy Fiscal New Year – a New Beginning

The start of the fiscal year, even if not recognized with champagne and fireworks, often signals new beginnings. In the months and weeks leading up to July, there is often a burst of activity in nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit executives and their boards of directors create and ratify new budgets. Perhaps the governance or nominating committee puts forth a slate of new directors, and even officers stepping into leadership roles. In some years there will be a new board chair, in other years a board chair may be considering how to have an impact during the final year in office.

Here are some manageable and worthwhile fiscal New Year’s resolutions to support nonprofit executives and board chairs working together to foster a productive, collaborative year for leadership and for the organization.

At the Threshold of a Leadership Transition: What’s on the Other Side?

Consulting with nonprofits on strategic planning and organizational development, I’ve seen how succession planning has emerged as a very important task for the board and executive leadership. Succession planning involves developing talent within an organization to assume higher levels of responsibility, as well as identifying a plan for seamless continuity when the executive director/CEO leaves.

When an organization has a succession plan in place, stakeholders tend to feel confident that come what may, they will be prepared. In reality, however, when a nonprofit board of directors is faced with an executive leadership transition, they cross a threshold into uncharted territory.