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!

 

A Case Against Playing Good Cop, Bad Cop with the Board

Bad news is a fact of life, including organizational life, and it can be difficult to deliver. There are times, for example, when budgets are tight and the staff needs to be cut, is asked to take voluntary furloughs, or must accept delayed paychecks. Or, services or hours of operation need to be cut back.

It can be tempting to blame these unpleasant decisions on the board, since the board may be a mysterious, unseen reality that staff rarely encounter.

But avoid this temptation. Don’t throw your board under the bus when you have to deliver bad or disappointing news to your staff. Own being the executive leader – the good and the not so good of it. Be honest. Your staff can take it and will respect you for it. So will your board.

When you blame a difficult decision on the board, you drive a wedge between the two constituencies that are vital to your organization’s success and, perhaps, to your own personal success. In some organizations, the staff and board don’t know each other very well. In your leadership role, you can foster mutual trust.

5 Ways to Shake up Your Board Meetings

We all know the feeling: The essential but sometimes routine business that makes up the board meeting agenda can sap board members’ energy. Before you know it, board members are looking at their watches, thinking about their next meal, and planning their great escape. This doesn’t have to happen! Break the tragic cycle of board meeting monotony with these 5 ideas.

1. Keep the Mission Front and Center

Encourage your board to connect the work they do with the organization’s mission. Your mission is at the heart of what staff and executive leadership do every day, but it’s easy for board members, who may have only occasional contact with the organization, to lose sight of it. In the case of one of my clients, the board recited the mission statement at the opening of each board meeting.

Don’t Miss Out: Why You Need to Engage Diverse Stakeholders in Strategic Planning

Don’t Miss Out: Why You Need to Engage Diverse Stakeholders in Strategic Planning

One of the most interesting and meaningful steps in the strategic planning process is engaging stakeholders, both internal and external. The insights you gain by eliciting a range of perspectives about your organization contributes to the creation of a high-impact strategic plan.

Who Are Your Stakeholders?

Internal stakeholders – namely, the board of directors and staff – have an intrinsic interest in the success of the organization they know so well. Each of these stakeholders has a unique and central voice in the planning process.

February 21st, 2016|Strategic Planning|

3 Reasons Why the Strategic Planning Process Is as Important as the Plan

If you have ever been involved with your organization’s strategic planning process (and I’m assuming you have), you may have had concerns about the overlay of activity on an already high-tempo organization.

However, there is wisdom to the time commitment required in strategic planning. The process of creating the strategic plan necessitates a deep and extended encounter with the organization’s mission, vision, and goals – as well as meaningful interactions among the stakeholders.

Beginning with my first strategic planning engagement, I knew the process was as important as the resulting plan. Being a process person by nature, what could be better?

How the Process Pays off – an Illustration

Let’s fast-forward through the entire strategic planning process to the time when the board of directors has officially adopted the plan.

January 25th, 2016|Strategic Planning|