Escaping the Multiple Destination Trap: How to Maximize the Impact in your Nonprofit


Sami Bedell-Mulhern 0:04
Hello, we are here for our May guest expert training cme here with Patrick Kirby, my partner in crime with a nonprofit bootcamp and our guest trainer today Anthony Taylor. Patrick, do you want to say hello?

Patrick Kirby 0:19
Hi, friends, how are you? Welcome to me. This is a great one. We’ve heard a lot over the last couple of months about how you are all using this in different scenarios. So whether you are watching this live or watching the replay, appreciate you being here and your participation. And a great one today. I’m very I’m very excited, like usually excitable about things. I’m very excited about this as a

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 0:39
as a topic that I’m excited about. You’re always excitable. True, that is true. Um, well, just a couple things of housekeeping. And then we will turn everything over to our guest trainer, we are talking all about strategic plans today and how you can have more fun with them and use them to your abilities to actually make things work as opposed to just doing a strategic plan for the sake of doing a strategic plan, which I’m sure we’ve all experienced in the past. But for all of our nonprofit boot camp members, this video will be up for you with all of Anthony’s resources within the next 48 hours. So check out your student dashboard for that. If you’re not a nonprofit bootcamp member, make sure you ask your local chamber of commerce, why you are not one, and we’d love to chat with them. So you can get access to all of these replays, and goodies. As well as all the other amazing guest trainings that we’ve done. But without further ado, I would love to turn all of this greatness over to Anthony Taylor so that he can introduce himself share why he loves strategic planning, and help us have more fun with the process. Anthony, thank you so much for being here.

Anthony Taylor 1:52
Thanks me, Patrick. I was very excited. And said, I asked my wife said hey, you know who’s going to be the next trainer for this month? And then she said no, who and they said it’s gonna be a May. So I was very excited for that. You guys like that? Cool. So folks, welcome. So good timing for me. Oh, that was just for you. Because you said it with that like that twangs. So, hi, everybody, I’m super excited to share today about strategic planning about escaping the multiple destination trap, we got lots to talk about. So let’s just jump into it. You know, more than anything, the goodies to ask Sarah are going to be available in your portal. So please do check that out. But really, strategic planning is an amazing tool I’m so excited to share. And I think contextually, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself tell you a little bit about why. But it helps you have more impact. So whatever you’re up to today, this training, if you’re eating it, or watching it while eating lunch, you’re watching it with your group. Don’t forget why why is to increase the impact of your organization to do good for the folks in your community in your neighborhood, the people that you serve, you know whether that neighborhood is national, or regional or what have you. And so I’m really here to help those people. So that’s the kind of like level I want you to play at a lot at stake today. And to help your organization be effective to help you enjoy what you’re doing. And ultimately, to escape the multiple destination trap, which I’ll talk to you about. We’ll do some questions after. But first, let’s get into today’s agenda. So I’ll tell you a little bit about the multiple destination trap and my experience, how I figured out that I was actually in it, how to prepare for strategic planning. So you know, this is recorded in May. But a lot of people do it kind of coming off their fiscal years, they do it kind of in September in the fall, you might do it next year. And you’re probably going to do it with a lot of different organizations. So if you’re involved in multiple boards, multiple strategic or nonprofit organizations, this will help talk a little bit about engaging stakeholders. It’s such a critical part of the strategic planning process for nonprofit orcs. So when I’ve talked about that, too, but we’re talking about critical conversations within the strategic planning process, because many of you might have seen Oh, strategic planning, like I’ve done that I’ve seen that well, I’ve seen that too. And I’ve seen it done badly. But I want you to do it very well. And then successful planning implementation, as Patrick and I were chatting before it’s yes, we have a plan, but we don’t have a lot of bandwidth. So we just need to do the next best thing. next right thing next right there? I think it is. So all right. I want to talk to you about the multiple destination traveling. I’m going to use this as a means of my introduction, actually. So since you don’t know very much about me. I started off on two boards when I was basically starting my business, you know, 1015 years ago. And what I found with my boards and the people that I was working with, I was the chair on one board I was just a board member on the other and I was with a very passionate people that all had their different idea of what we should do, and it was agonizing to work through is you have people that are so Passion is so smart, so committed. But for us to be able to move forward was like herding cats, if you’ve ever heard the expression herding cats, and so what we found is actually many organizations for profit, not for profit have this same problem, there’s a lot of different ways they could go. There’s a lot of different opportunities, if in fact, there are too many opportunities and not enough time, money energy to go after it. And so you ended up spinning around in circles, you have multiple destinations, everybody has a different idea of what success looks like. And so no one’s really going in the same place. Ultimately, it leaves you stuck, you’re in a trap, and you don’t know what. And so what I really want to highlight today is how you can escape the multiple destination trap and move towards one destination, which I will talk about a little bit later. So ask your team, you know, do we all have the same idea of success? Are we all going to the same place, if they’re not going to the same place, we’re going to different places. So a little bit about me, other than being a past board chair, being on boards, I am the CEO at SME strategy consulting, I facilitated hundreds of strategic planning sessions across Canada and the US. I have done hundreds of interviews with CEOs as I’m a host of the strategy and leadership podcast 1000s of hours executive coaching. And I’ve written the book on strategic planning alignment, how to get your people strategy and culture on the same page. So I like live strategic wedding, I live leadership work. And I just I love it. It’s so fun, because it helps teams get to their highest potential. So as I talked about earlier, that’s what I’m here to help you do. All right. So why is strategic planning, you might have gone through a lot of strategic planning exercises before and some people dread strategic planning. And you say, Oh, that’s a waste of time or whatever. There’s the document. And then there’s the direction. And I’m more concerned with the direction and the alignment than the document. Okay. So why is strategic planning important to have everybody working on the same thing at the same time, and everybody moving in the same direction at the same time is critical. Okay, you as a nonprofit, generally speaking, you don’t have unlimited time, money, energy, you may have a volunteer board, you might have volunteers in general. And for you to be able to mobilize them effectively, you need to be able to provide a structure or a framework for them to know what they need to do next. So that’s why a strategic plan, it is for direction, and it’s for guidance, it’s not for document, but it is good for getting funding. And then the other piece is to overcome complexities during growth. So I’ve seen nonprofits go from a group of passionate people to a group of passionate people with some money to a group of passionate people with some money and somebody leading and working for them. And then you start hiring more and more staff, if that’s where you want to go. And so the increased complexity within your organization leads to more need for direction and more need for guidance. If you’ve never heard of like shiny object syndrome, it’s to help address shiny object syndrome. It’s also there to address complexities with communication. So as I had mentioned, as a board member, I had a lot of people that I had to work with to report to. And the more people you add within your organization, the more complex the communication gets, the more important it is to be able to have a clear communication in terms of how you’re working. So the more people you bring into the kind of ecosystem of your organization, whether that’s, you know, bankers, funders, staff, stakeholders, the more important to this to have a central place of truth. Okay, so I’m talking a little bit about the process that we use, we have a free strategic planning agenda online, just Google strategic planning agenda, and you can find it as any strategy. I talk a little bit about engaging stakeholders, preparing for your meetings, depending if you’re doing it virtually or online, and then I’ll share with you our process so you can steal it. I also want to talk about key conversations within the process so that it goes well. I see a lot of kind of tripping points for people within strategic planning. All we do is facilitate those conversations for people. So I’ve seen it all. Alright, the first thing I want to talk to you about because it’s really relevant for nonprofits is is stakeholder mapping. As an organization that’s typically involved with communities or people that they care about, because you’re led by your mission. There’s a lot of people that you need to get involved in what you’re doing. So making sure that you’re engaging with stakeholders early is critical. And some organizations let’s say you’re a university here and Chamber of Commerce or you know, somewhere around you have a lot of people that you need to engage with and you can’t always engage with them all. You can’t always engage with them as fulsomely as you’d like. So you need to map them you need to know who they are where they are gauge. This is a cheat sheet I commend them in word to me manage those people effectively. In short, if they have high influence and high interest, make sure that you’re engaging them regularly and keeping them happy. If they have high interest and low influence, make sure that you’re informing them. If they have low interest and high influence, keep them happy. So you can snapshot this, but it’s a really good way to help you prioritize strategic planning itself. It’s about prioritizing. It’s about saying yes to stuff or saying no to stuff. And so stakeholder engagement is no different. Some words of advice for engaging stakeholders, do not forget about them, and do not engage them too late in the process, I’ve seen plans derail, because even if the stakeholder was effectively bought in, because nobody asked them on the front end, it became a problem and they resisted it. So engage your stakeholders, do your strategic planning, roll it back out to your stakeholders have a better time. So how do you do that, talk to your employees, talk to your stakeholders, as part of your strategic planning process, use a mix of methods. So whether that’s in person sessions, or synchronous or asynchronous interviews, that will help you get better luck and better success in engaging them and bringing them into your plant. Connect before and after the session. As I mentioned, the goal is with all of your stakeholders, for them to see themselves in your plan. Your volunteers for a nonprofit organization are often your most impactful stakeholders, they you don’t have power over them. And they aren’t contributing money typically. So they need to be aligned with your mission. And they need to see themselves in your plan for them to want to do whatever is next that you’re trying to engage them with. The same goes for funders. All right, let’s get into the strategy process.

So there’s a lot of different strategic planning methodologies out there. This is the one that we use. For most organizations, we do it over two days or so. For some smaller nonprofits, you might need less time, I’d say don’t focus on the time, focus on the conversations. So I’m going to stay with this graphic here and basically simplify it into five steps. Whoa, there we go. Where are we now? Balloon celebrating all the good stuff, the organization? SWOT analysis, so looking at eternal PESTEL analysis looking at internal, or are we going as in what success look like? Typically, we do a three year, not five year vision, mainly because it’s five years is too far out for most people. Plus, there’s so much change that we do a three year vision, and a three year mission. Who are we? What do we do? Who do we do it for? Your organization may feel more comfortable with your mission being at the top and your vision being below? And I can answer why later on. So where are we now? Where are we going getting our way values and behaviors as well as risks. The risk analysis will help you prioritize based on your needs, and not just your wants. What do we need to do. And we talk about setting three strategic priorities. So focus on a couple things, do them really well, instead of trying to do a lot of things a little, and then cascading that into smart goals, actions and communication planning. So by the way, you might need to listen to this at half speed. But there’s a lot to cover. What I want you to think about in terms of the strategic planning process, if you’re suggesting or thinking about leaving us with your team, make sure everybody knows where you’re going, make sure everybody knows what’s gonna get in the way, and be able to put the things you work on in a couple buckets. Most organizations, many organizations are, are tempted to try to do everything. And the challenge is you don’t have time, money or energy to do everything. So you need to say no to certain things now, so that you can say yes to them later. And so once you and your board or you and your staff are clear on where you’re going, you’re clear on what you do for whoever it is. And you’re clear on how you want to work as an organization that should act as a filter to help you make the right decisions. Your priorities are the things that you need to focus on over the next six 912 24 months, whatever it is to help you move forward. And then you can cascade that into goals and actions. I talk a little bit more about goals after but this is a if you’ve never done strategic planning before or if you’re a veteran strategic planner. I recommend this framework to help everybody get aligned and on the same page. All right. So let’s say you’re going through strategic planning, you’re using this agenda. Here’s a couple of tips to make your session Great. off site, if possible. As a nonprofit organization, you likely don’t have a site so that’s fantastic. You as a facilitator, if you can And mainly because you’re vested in the interest in the work that you’re doing. It’s also hard to be unbiased as you go through that process. If you can’t afford a facilitator, that’s no problem. If you can, then great, high quality protein rich breakfast and snacks. I know it sounds weird to put in a presentation like this. But you wouldn’t believe the sessions that get derailed at two o’clock in the afternoon because people are hungry and exhausted, it takes a lot of work to lead a strategic plan forward a parking lot. I find nonprofits as they change, have a lot of existential questions or unknowns as they’re growing as the landscape is changing. So make sure you have a time and space to do that. And then remember that a strategic planning session is among the first conversations about the direction not the last. The last thing we’re going to share about this is, especially if you have a volunteer board and people who are committed to the organization, but they’re giving their free time up. And two days may seem like a lot. Consider that the work that you’re doing in that one or two days, whether that’s all jammed together, or overtime, is going to guide the next several years of the organization. So it might seem like it takes a lot of time. But it’ll certainly save you time as you go through the process of every single day, every single decision you make as an organization will be guided by your strategic plan. So I highly recommend it. Okay, Sammy, we’re doing okay, let me know if anything comes up. Or if you want to stop me how you’re doing awesome. antastic. All right. So in the strategic planning process, so I want to touch on a couple things to help you make this individual section good, because I think it’s a critical part. So the first step, current state, where are we now, don’t skip the celebration. It’s really important, especially as a nonprofit or mission based organization, that you celebrate all the good things that got you to where you are, because it’s human nature to look at what we don’t have. But if you skip over the history, the impact of growth that you’ve had, as an organization, your strategic plan might end up be a complaining fest, versus hey, let’s build on our sickness. First thing we do always celebrate that. So we set a really great standard of how we got to here. It’s important to look inside and outside of the organization, how customers are buying the funding, landscape, technology, social causes, all of those things are changing literally by the minute. And so it’s critical that your organization looks inside as well as outside the organization so that you can adapt and make the best plan possible. The next is don’t make weaknesses a bad thing. Because some people naturally think they should be good at everything. Every organization has their strengths. Every organization has their weaknesses. So build on your strengths, leverage your strengths, and address some weaknesses if you need to. What you should do confirm assumptions and truths, because everybody’s going to have a different perspective. So use the current state to align on where you’re at, use stakeholder data shared earlier, talk to your people bring their information into the process, and then make decisions based on it. Consider perspectives are reality, everybody on your board, everybody in your organization has a different truth. So the current state has an opportunity to align those perspectives. So everybody’s on the same page, get everybody on the same page early, it’ll make the whole process easier. And try to get a comprehensive view of the organization. I found, especially with board of directors who aren’t in the day to day all the time, it’s easy for them to kind of suggest or inform or think they understand something. But if they don’t, then you’re gonna get a biased perspective as you go into your plan. That’s vision. This is one that people love us working with. So don’t make your vision too broad. Some people try to make the open to interpretation, they want it to sound good, they want it to be inspiring, but in the process, they have no idea what success actually means. So I highly recommend substance over well, that’s the wrong Oh, yeah. Don’t do inspiration over substance. Substance over inspiration is the proper way to do that. I always ask this question. You can write this down. If success was a place three years from today. How would we know if we got there? If success was in place three years from today, how would we know if we got there? I’m trying to make sure everybody has the same answer. And don’t worry about wordsmithing is the number one thing that will derail your strategic planning process because people will say, oh, there should be a comma there or that should be this word instead of that word. There are times to get important words aligned, but it’s not usually right when you’re in this session. So do get alignment on important words. We had a conversation with a group and they were trying to focus on folks that were underserved. Well, what is underserved really mean? You know, when we talk about our community, how big is our community? Those are important words that you need to align on. So everybody has that same perspective, have one destination as a fixed date. So I alluded to if success was a place, how would we know if we got there? One of the things if we say, and so Sammy, here in Minnesota, if I say, hey, let’s all go to California on vacation. Well, my version of California might be different than Patrick’s might be different than Sammy, he’s might be different than Sarah’s there Jessica’s. So if we think we’re going to California, but we all have a different idea, are we really going to the same place. And so making sure that it’s explicit in terms of what success looks like, instead of conceptual or open to interpretation, be aspirational, but also realistic. You know, if you’ve got 100,000 in revenue, and you say, in three years, we’re going to be at $10 million, that might not be realistic. And so if people can’t imagine themselves getting there, then their plan is going to get stuck. So make sure that you have a vision that inspires, but that you can actually accomplish it.

Okay, goals. Now, this is a touchy point for certain organizations for profit or not for profit, because no one wants to be accountable. So what I’ll suggest is don’t let yourself off the hook with goals. Don’t skip goals, and don’t make them open to interpretation. Don’t confuse goals with objection objectives or actions. And objective is qualitative. And a goal is quantitative. So you want to be able to have smart measurements as part of your strategic planning. Don’t have too many goals. I’ve seen organizations that say, here’s our nine strategic priorities and our 30 measures, it’s going to be impossible to track it’s going to be impossible to stay focused on. And don’t worry about it being perfect the first draft, it’s never going to be perfect. So just focus on improving them. Do make smart goals, if you don’t know what smart goals are, Google it. But make sure that you have a way of measuring success in everything that you’re trying to accomplish. Use both leading and lagging indicators. For example, you know, when you want to have a million dollars in funding, well, I need to then talk to 30 funders, those are both potential actions. I want to engage stakeholders, I want to have stakeholders to be happy, I want to engage with 30 stakeholders. Those are different measures, leading and lagging. Always tie your goals back to the risks. I’ve seen confusing strategic plans where their goals and actions don’t tie them to where they’re trying to get to. So make sure you know where you’re going, and what you need to do to get you there. And then try to create a connection between all teams and the goals even if it’s small. So if you have volunteers, if you have staff, if you have board members, try to get them to be able to move the needle on those goals so that everybody can be part of the plan, not just staff. Okay, sticking points to avoid during strategic planning. So I’m gonna take a quick second and say, strategic planning, as we’ve discussed, is basically figuring out where you are, where do you want to get to what’s going to get in the way, and then making a plan to take those steps day by day, week by week, month by month to move you forward. Whether you do a strategic planning session in two days over a weekend, or you do it have those conversations over several weeks, the key part is to make sure that everybody’s on the same page. Everybody knows what success looks like. And everybody knows the little tasks they need to do to move forward. If you do that successfully, you’re going to maximize the energy you put in, you’re going to maximize your focus, you’re going to maximize your money, you’re going to maximize the you know the opportunities that you have. The plan itself is not designed to be constricting. But it is supposed to be a filter, so that you can focus on the best opportunities. If you look forward, there’s an infinite amount of things you can do to move your organization forward. And that’s where people get stuck because they try to focus on everything all at once. So as I mentioned earlier, my recommendation for you and your group is figure out what success looks like and look backwards and then only do the things that will get you there. organizations get still so stuck on what they need to do. They forget about why so never lose sight of the why never lose sight of what success looks like for your group. Okay, so I’m gonna get into some other sticking points in terms of process. And I read the by one, you’re probably not listening to me because you’re gonna read this so I’ll let you read it. And then I’ll go over

So that’s an organization that has, I’m going to consider every organization has limited time, money energy. But for nonprofits, if you’re going to be investing your time in this, you really got to make sure that it’s good. So here’s some sticking points, I invite you to avoid. Number one, having different groups of people in the room. mission based organizations nonprofit, often want to be inclusive. And they want to make sure they hear from everybody. The problem is that not everybody is in the best position to guide the organization. Make sure that you have the right people whose job it is to guide the organization, typically a board, or the executive director and their staff. If you have different groups of people, everybody is going to be wearing a different app. And it’s going to make it really hard to have the conversations you want. Number two, is sometimes people get focused on their own roles, and they forget about the organization. So for example, let’s say you have somebody involved in marketing, somebody involved in fundraising, somebody involved in community work, if they’re all wearing their own, bringing the their own perspective to the table, they’re gonna forget about the organization. So I always tell people make sure that we’re wearing the organization hat, not our individual hat, where, you know, if you’re, if you’d like hockey, in the Midwest, or beyond, the name on the front of your jersey is more important than the name on the back of your jersey. So bring that to the table, every conversation that you’re going to have. And it’ll help your team be more focused and more effective. Another challenge I see is teams, prioritize based on wants and not needs, say, we need to do this, we need to do this and say, Oh, we shouldn’t do this. So balancing what those are, to mitigate the risks within the organization will be critical. Not enough time, I touched on that a little bit earlier, with volunteers or people that you know, aren’t paid. Even if you are paying you say, Hey, we do this short, you’ve got one day to do strategic planning. So I really encourage you to take the time that you need to make sure that everybody’s on the same page, because it’ll ultimately pay dividends down the road. And depending on your group, you might overanalyze rabbit holes, or you might have long talkers. But just be careful, that will suck up your time, first by a little than by a lot. So just have a rule as a group to say, hey, sounds like a digression. Let’s park it. It’s another benefit of having a facilitator. Okay, as we are landing the plane here, I’m talking about communicating your plans. So here’s some best practices for communicating the plan. So you’ve gone through this off site, you’ve met with your team, you’ve done all this great work, or you’ve built it over a couple of weeks. And now I need to tell people. So first, high level vision and priorities, you don’t need to get into the actions quite yet. They just need to know where you’re going. And high level what you’re going to do to get there and try to get people bought into that vision. If applicable, align that vision to the individual teams or subcommittees, cascading strategic plans, if it’s appropriate, say, hey, this committee might have a piece of work that drives us forward, this committee drives us forward, this committee drives us forward. But first is aligning everybody to the vision. If you’ve engaged stakeholders as part of the process, or not two way communication, so you’re gonna share the plan. And then people are going to communicate back to you to make sure that you’re hearing each other, they’re bought in everybody’s clear. Celebrate wins as part of communicating the plan. So you might have done a three or five year plan, you might have volunteers that are just staying on a year term or two year term. And you have people that are just kind of in the organization with no commitment, you need to be able to highlight the small successes along the way. Because if you have to wait till three years to see any success, people probably won’t stick around. So celebrate wins along the way. And really make it an organizational plan. Don’t let the plan get stuck at the board or the staff. Just make sure everybody gets engaged with that plan. Okay, how to stay on top of it. One of the things that crushes mission based organizations nonprofit is losing sight of the plan. We made a document and it’s somewhere we did 123 years ago, we never looked at it again. Here’s some really easy ways to stay on top of your plan. Try to stay with me instead of reading this. So monthly calls about the plan. So always bring the strategic plan as part of your planning as part of your meetings quarterly to measure Strategic Plan progress, if you’re a really small nonprofit, maybe twice a year to do that, and that’s enough, but really focus on the tasks within your plan. And as well as the measures within your plan, if you can do a strategy review a full review, once a year, that’s great, there’s likely going to be changes within the external and internal environment within a year. So it’s a good opportunity to reassess and realign ample communication. As a leader 80% of your work is communication. I feel like I’ve been personalizing this to smaller nonprofits. But it applies for any size nonprofit, you could be doing 60 or $70 million. And being a nonprofit, you could be a chamber of commerce that’s doing two or three or five or 10. You know, communication within your plan is critical at all levels and sizes, make the plan visible, so your stakeholders and your staff know the progress of it. But also that it’s top of mind so that you don’t forget the why of what you’re doing. And celebrate successes. Yes, again, it’s so critical to celebrate successes as part of your strategic plan. From experience, these are some of the things I’ve learned, it will go slower than you want, you’ll want your plan to move forward, especially if you’re embarking on some big changes, it’s likely gonna go slower that you want. I can’t remember who said this. So I’ll brutally mess up the quote, but it lives life lift slowly forward and fast backwards. And so you might underestimate the progress you make on a day to day, but after your quarterly, or yearly review, you’ll say, Well, we really did a lot. So you know, don’t forget about some people in your group or organization may not want to raise their standards. So let’s say as a, as a organization, you have a big vision, you have big goals, not everybody part of your organization is going to want to go to that future. And that’s okay. They may leave, they may not volunteer anymore, they may not contribute, you want people to stay that are focused on the vision, what you’re up to where you’re going. And likely change will be required. Don’t underestimate the energy focus needed for it to be successful, especially with some of those initiatives. You know, as you’re growing as an organization, as you’re putting some more processes and systems in place, it takes a lot of work to move that forward. Don’t forget about the why that you’re doing it, it’s to get impact in your community to help the people that you serve. Final tips. Before I open it up to q&a. Make sure you have the right leaders within your organization, volunteer or paid, make sure that you’re resourcing sufficiently. Just because you’re a nonprofit doesn’t mean you are escaping the need to resource the projects that you’re working on people or capital or energy or focus. A conflict happens in all organizations work through it, you cannot work around it, it will ultimately cause problems later on. And conflict is not a bad thing. Sometimes people think conflict is bad. It’s just it is unnecessary when you’re got high stakes things that you’re working on. And then as I mentioned, again, don’t undervalue incremental process progress. It’s critical for any organization to see those little wins along the way. The last thing I’ll share is just a little bit about us and what we do, we have a course on strategic planning, that we can walk you through our entire strategic planning process. Literally, if you Google strategic planning process, I go more into depth of how we do it. And it’s free. It’s got like 1.3 million views or something on YouTube. And then if you’ve got an under a million dollar operating budget, we have a nonprofit program, well, which subsidized $7,000 of your strategic planning. But if you don’t have that, or don’t have any budget, we’ve got tons of free tools online to help you with your strategic planning. So my reason for being here is to really help you have impact in your communities, because that’s my way of changing the world. And just to support you with what you’re up to. So I know there’s a lot of great organizations all over the world that want to do great things. They just aren’t focused enough to get them there. So if you do a good strategic plan, it’ll help you focus your time, money, energy, it’ll help you have more impact. It’ll help people be more engaged, and you’ll ultimately serve the people that you serve even better. So with that, I’d love to connect on LinkedIn or somewhere else on the internet and Sammy, I’m will pass it off or back to you.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 34:29
Oh, my goodness. So you went through a lot there in 35 minutes. So yes, so much goodness, um, I am trying to like multitask with my zoom settings. So there we go. Um, I have some questions that I would love to ask if you would indulge me because there’s a few things that you said that really hit the mark. The first one being I love the celebrating wins that you said oh Over and over and over and over again. And I think that’s so important because when we’re growing our organizations, we tend to forget that we’re doing good work. So do you have like a practice that you do within just your own team to like, just even celebrate the little small things? So that you know that you’re continuing to like, hit these milestones? Do you like build that into your plan? Or do you just kind of do a reflection every month? So you’re like, Okay, this is what we did this month, like, let’s all just kind of pat ourselves on the back.

Anthony Taylor 35:32
Great question. I think there’s a couple of ways you can look at it. If you’re trying to improve accountability, then tracking the tasks that you said, you’re gonna do in between meetings, to say, hey, here’s the 10 tasks that we said we wanted to do, like, how did we do? And so building the culture of accountability for that type of work? It helps, it especially helps if there’s no accountability, and you can say, oh, last week, we did percent of the work. Okay, well, let’s try to get it to 50%. Next month, okay. And then you start knowing yourself as an organization that does the work, which is great. Accountability is a huge one that crushes all types of organizations. For us, internally, we have a Slack channel, where we talk about wins. And so we just say, hey, what’s cool, what did we do cool with clients this week? What are we doing cool internally, someone just like, dead lifted their own weight, and they were very excited about that. So it’s like personal and professional. Yeah, we’re not a bodybuilding nonprofit. But you know what I mean? And then also, like setting up the meetings, it was start off with a meeting, hey, what do we want to celebrate? You know, what are some big what are some wins that we had as part of our plan, like informal that way, but it helps everybody get on the right foot, especially if you’re going to start talking about people’s accountabilities. You want to be able to say, hey, we did all of this good stuff. And here’s where we missed the mark. You know, we were supposed to have these meetings with these three goals. That didn’t happen. You know, it doesn’t become an excuse. It just makes it easier to build on success than going right into kind of the negative.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 37:10
Yep. And if you’re hearing you have questions, feel free to post them in the chat or unmute yourself. And Anthony is here for you. But I one other thing that you said, well, a lot of things you said stuck out, I have a whole list of questions for you. But um, you said something about like pulling together the strategic plan, and that it doesn’t have to happen completely in that session, and that you might have a weekend, or you might do it over a period of weeks. How can we avoid getting in the trap of always planning and not moving into the phase of execution?

Anthony Taylor 37:43
That’s a really good question. I think it’s important to have a defined agenda or process. So when we do it, like let’s call it, we always do it synchronous synchronously. So to me, I really like the two days, go through it over a weekend, get it done. So you don’t have that kind of open loop in your head. If we’re doing it virtually, or nonprofit program, virtual is five, three hour sessions. So what I would say is, get the agenda that you want to work through, get the questions that you want to work through, answer all of those questions, then stop. So make sure that you have a clearly defined thing. And to keep it really simple current state future state, roadblocks, priorities, goals and actions. And then you can move into the kata, okay, we’re implementing our goals and actions, we are having the conversations we need to have after that, but yes, a very defined process will be critical. I don’t find that most teams over plan, rather under Plan. But you also don’t want to be talking about your mission every week, you don’t want to be talking about your vision every week, and kind of wordsmithing and adjusting it you say, Okay, we’re talking about this, we’re gonna give it the time, and it’s, and then we’re, and then we’ll revisit it next year or something like that?

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 39:03
Well, and then going with that, like, once you have the plan, like Change management is tricky, especially when you have volunteer boards or things of that nature. So do you have any advice or ways that, you know, nonprofit leaders can maybe gracefully help a stakeholder exit? If it’s something that like they don’t understand or get or care or agree with the direction that the bulk of people have decided is where we’re going to move forward? Like, do you have ways that you can kind of approach that conversation with stakeholders that maybe aren’t going to kind of go with the ship?

Anthony Taylor 39:45
Well, I am a real direct guy. So in those conversations, I’ll just say, Hey, we’re not You’re not going to this, but I’ll frame it a slightly different way. Is that if you don’t know where you’re going It’s impossible for people to know if they’re going where the organization is or not. So just the act of aligning on the vision and the goals, will it’ll hit somebody smack in the face. And they’ll say, I actually don’t want to go here anymore. And so rarely will you have somebody stick around, where if the writing is on the wall about the future of the organization, the more likely option is that there’s no clarity, and that people will be frustrated in meetings, you won’t know why. They’ll keep opposing things, but it won’t. No one will understand why. Because there’s nothing kind of grounding it. And if you do get into that point, then you ask that person explicit, you say, hey, you know, what does success look like to you? And they say, Okay, this is what success looks like to me. And they say, Okay, well, this is what success looks like to me. So either, we’re going to the same place and we know it, we’re going to the same place. And we don’t know it, as in what you’re saying. And what I’m saying are actually the same thing. We just can’t hear each other over our desire to be right. Or we’re not going to the same place at all. And at that point, we just have to make a decision and say, Hey, but the big thing is passionate people really want people to know how passionate and smart they are. But that can also often cause conflicts, even if there’s agreement or alignment, because they can’t hear each other. And that’s why a facilitator is valuable, or just any neutral third party to lead that meeting. So

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 41:31
yeah, oh, Sara has to pop off. But she says thank you. And she is excited to share some of this stuff with her with her strategic planning board. So that’s exactly what this is for. So that makes me happy. Um, but this kind of leads me to the conversation of like, wants versus needs, because you’re totally you know, sometimes we have people that have their own ego, or thoughts or feelings. And I feel like when you can really be specific with your strategic plan, and, and like what you said earlier, like, this isn’t the laundry list of everything, this is kind of the targeted list of exactly what we need and where we’re going. Your strategic plan can kind of help you be able to have more thoughtful conversations with your board or with stakeholders about why you’re choosing or not choosing to do certain activities.

Anthony Taylor 42:24
Yes. Was there a question in there? Okay. Here, here’s the how you get to there. So yes, the difference between our tasks and our priority. But what we do is we do what we call a risk register. And we say what are if we’re here, and we’re trying to get through there, what are all the things that are gonna get in the way, and we list them? And we say, Okay, this, you know, teamwork, funding communication, market challenges, you get like really granular, hey, we’re gonna lose our Executive Director, or we don’t have enough staffing capacity, or we, you know, our lease expiring, or we needed a new location is not big enough, you know, those are all of the things that are gonna get in the way. And then we rank them, we actually put numbers to them so that we can specifically say, what are the biggest risks? And then we do our priorities are going to buckets of stuff to mitigate those biggest risks. So it’s like, hey, you know, the house is on fire. And we also have a lawn that needs manicuring. You know, what, where are we going to spend our energy? A lot of people are like, Oh, the lawn is closer to us. It’s right here. We should work on that. No, the house is on fire. We need to deal with the house. But most people don’t think like that, because there’s no method of prioritization or there’s no shared method of prioritization. So the key part about strategic planning is prioritizing what you need to work on when you need to work on it. Yeah, I want to do the tasks from there.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 43:53
Yeah, I want to throw a plug out there for zoom has a ton of apps. And so I was we were talking about like, how to like shut people up. You said it nicer, but like how to like, keep the voices in the room. Correct. And with Zoom, they have an app called sesh. So if you are doing a virtual, some sort of planning, I highly recommend it you could put your agenda in Have you used it before? No, no heard of it. So you can put your agenda in. And then you can like, give people time limits for how long they’re allowed to speak and what each section is going to take. And then if they keep talking, it’ll give them their countdown timer. And if they keep talking, it’s like being at the award show, the music starts playing and they get drowned out and they just kind of thoughtfully get pushed off to the side and then the next agenda gets to continue on. So if you’re doing virtual meetings, definitely check out the Zoom app. sesh it’s a great way to just keep people on track without you if you don’t have a facilitator without you having to be the quote unquote bad guy. Um, but I wanted to then like lead that into kind of why you alluded to this a little bit in what you’re talking about, but why a facilitator Especially somebody coming in to kind of lead this can make a big difference and a big impact and your strategic planning. Having that outside influence that outside thought process versus like trying to just do it internally with the team that has been together for a period of time, like what are the pros and cons to that.

Anthony Taylor 45:17
So I am super bias. And I think it’s a good idea, I will start it with a metaphor, okay. Everybody knows the fish is in the water except for the fish. And so when you’re in it, you can’t see out of it, you cannot see your issues are what they are, you cannot see your conflict cliques for what they are, you can’t see your biases for what they are when you’re in an organization. The other thing is, if you’ve been working with XYZ person for 10, or 15, or 20 years, which happens in a lot of organizations, you know, you’re not going to talk to them this way, as someone who is a neutral party, so I can push you I can poke you, I can challenge you the universal I you know, wherever you use for as a facilitator, but in challenge lease and challenge your assumptions. And I can call you on your BS a lot easier than someone you go to church with, or somebody that you know, you’ve known and like they will not call you on that. And the point is not to have a facilitator, the point is to have a plan that will help you have the biggest impact for your organization. And so some of those biases, some of that conflict avoidance won’t help you get there. If you’re small. Or you can’t afford a facilitator, that’s okay, because someone will facilitate. The problem is air quotes problem. They’re not neutral, and it takes them away from facilitating. So no matter how you do it, I recommend a facilitator, internal or external, their only job as a facilitator is to make sure other people hear each other. As in you and Patrick have worked with each other for however long, you might not always hear each other, what you’re actually saying. So a facilitator can help you hear each other, even if you’re saying the exact same thing. And so that’s so having somebody who can challenge the assumptions, who can create a safe space, who can, you know, put things on the table and help the conversation move forward. So no matter what session you’re having someone is facilitating, I think the biggest difference is having somebody neutral. And from outside the organization who can say, you’re done by like 30 seconds, or, Hey, let’s park that or that’s not relevant. It’s hard to do if you know the person,

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 47:36
and we lost Patrick to an internet connection. So that’s why he has disappeared. Otherwise, I know he would have so many thoughts about all the things that you’re saying. And I love that I think the goal of what you’re saying is like how can you need to have somebody in charge of what’s happening in the session and somebody that feels comfort, so you might have that person on your team that’s like, I don’t give too, whatever, I’m fine offending people, if that means that we’re going to get to the end goal if you have that type of personality. But, you know, a third party facilitator, and I agree with that, because I’m in marketing, I do marketing strategy, planning and marketing, right, like copywriting and content plan for organizations all day long, when it comes to running the marketing of my own business. I don’t do it by myself, like I have people that I contact like that I contract with to have conversations about that, because you can’t always see what’s right in front of your face. So I think that’s a very, very good reminder. I’m

Anthony Taylor 48:32
gonna say one more thing about just the facilitator. When we talk about like diversity, equity and inclusion and just creating a safe space is there are people who do not want to contribute at times they do not like not everybody is neuro similar. And so having a facilitator can like help those things, it can help create a safer space for people, it can help with people like quiet people, contribute better when they have time and space to think. And so just making sure that you’re like understanding of each person’s requirements in those sessions have facilitators kind of trained to do that. So that it is inclusive, you are hearing from everybody. One of the things we do before our sessions is we do interviews and surveys. So we can hear everybody, because not everybody thinks on their feet, they don’t work well that way. And so learning styles, communication styles are important to consider in those environments.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 49:24
I was talking about the lurkers are my favorite people, because they always have such thoughtful things to say they’re just not comfortable being the the louder voice in the room. So yeah, I love that. Okay, any kind of final words for folks with regards to you know, maybe like you mentioned like setting up your strategic plan. Usually it’s at the end of the year. I know a lot of nonprofits start their fiscal year in July. So like what, how far in advance should we kind of think about setting up our strategic We plan does it matter when we do it? Like I’ve heard some people say, well, we don’t do three to five year plans anymore because things change too often like, what’s, you know, with the scheduling? And kind of how far in advance we’re thinking like, what are your thoughts on that?

Anthony Taylor 50:14
That kind of go a lot of ways. So I say three year visioning one year operational, because you want to make sure that you’re kind of like running past the finish line, not kind of creeping up to it. And so like a constant three year vision, or three year iterations for plans that tend to work well for organizations, and then review them annually, you know, for facilitator are, typically it’s four to six weeks to book them in advance, if we’re looking at that. I don’t think there’s a bad time to do planning. I think it depends on your organization, because some people don’t like planning in summer, because that’s during vacations. And you don’t want to do it during March, because that’s your end. It’s just whatever works best for you, and your own planning cycle. So create an appropriate planning cycle for your own organization. And then just make sure you have like, like all things a plan to plan, which, you know, I like never say, we got to do all more prep stakeholder engagement work, we want to have our plan complete by blank date. Let’s work backwards. Yep, you want your plan complete by September. And it’s going to take you a couple of weeks to finalize all the work and a couple of weeks to do stakeholder engagement. That means you got to start your plan. Now,

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 51:29
yep, I would definitely recommend doing it earlier rather than later, especially because you don’t want to have your strategic planning butting up against your year end giving campaign. And I think that’s something that tends to like, almost pancake on top of itself. So Anthony, I

Anthony Taylor 51:44
appreciate the note of Oh, just a note on the year end giving campaign, having a good vision, a clear and inspiring vision will support that because people will know why they’re giving why they’re contributing. So if you have a big enough aspirational future, use that as a tool to support that, because people will know well, why should I contribute? Anyways, when you say this is the future that we see, this is what our organization looks like, and we need your support. So put those two together to be able to get engagement.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 52:15
That is a very good point, huge point. messaging around those campaigns is critical. And that’s a great way to just come up with your messaging without even having to do it as a separate, like you can do your planning for the year and do your urine campaign messaging planning all at the same time? Save yourself time, effort, energy. That’s a great point. Um, well, Anthony, thank you so much for giving your time and energy in to joining us today. Thank you for you know, sharing your offer with nonprofits. So if you’re looking for strategic plans, that link will be in the dashboard for you to check out anytime you want to reach out to Anthony and his team. Any kind of final words or thoughts of wisdom that might put you on the spot?

Anthony Taylor 53:00
Well, I always have a quote, it’s like the Alice in Wonderland story, where it’s like a that she gets to a fork in the road. And she said, which road should I take? And she asked the Cheshire Cat like, where are you trying to get to? And she says, I don’t know. And then he says within any road will get you there. So if you don’t know where you’re going, as an organization, it doesn’t matter what road you take, and people get so focused on the road, they forget about the destination. So get your team to that destination, which includes your organization, and the people that you serve, then if those two things aren’t aligned, then you got to work and then the stuff to do takes care of itself.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 53:36
I love that. Well, thank you again. And why don’t you just share with people one last time, how they can connect with you where to find you, and all of the good things.

Anthony Taylor 53:46
Awesome. Thanks, me. So Anthony, see Taylor on the internet, Anthony Taylor on LinkedIn, you can visit our company sme And if you Google nonprofit program, SME strategy, it’ll come up and you can learn more about the work we do. And then YouTube, we got our strategy and leadership podcasts, a lot of great tools, a lot of great leaders and we give, you know, 95% of what we do away for free, because we really want to help you have an impact in your community. So please do stay connected.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 54:14
Awesome. Well, thanks, everybody for joining us, and we’ll see you in the next one.


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