Mar 29

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Where do you think you are going?

When I was a child and my mother caught me heading out before telling her my plans she would ask, “Just where do you think you’re going?”

That’s a question many organizations fail to ask, and sometimes it’s the unasked question in the minds of supporters and donors.

I know how it is in many non-profit environments. Staff time is stretched. Everyone is busy with day-to-day activities. It’s a challenge to keep up. But are you going anywhere or just doing whatever the most pressing deadline demands?

Every organization needs to step back from its daily activities to assess why it exists and where it is headed.  A recent post on the Association of Lutheran Development Executives (ALDE) blog builds the case for some healthy gazing into the mirror. Here’s the link.

Few set out on a journey without establishing a destination. You chose a route based on things such as your interests or how fast you want to reach various stops along the way.

However, some organizations seem to believe they don’t necessarily need a map because, frankly, they don’t know where they want to go. The board has never worked it out. It’s easier to keep doing what they’ve always been doing rather than taking a look at the world in which they exist and asking “What has changed and how should we adapt.”

At a board meeting I attended, a facilitator read a glowing report about the organization set five years into the future. It talked about the various successes, activities and interactions the organization was experiencing. After reading the fictional piece, she asked the board members, “What decisions could you make today that will create this future?” The exercise gave the board a glimpse of what it is to have a vision and the members came up with some specific ideas, many of which became part of its strategic plan.

What will your organization look like in five years? What are the dreams? Does it have a map? Where does the board think it’s going?

As Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland once wrote: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

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