“I Don’t Know Quite How to Say This”: The Language of Strategy – Mike Stone Impact Strategies

strategyWhat does the word ‘strategy’ mean? Mike Stone addresses the different meanings around the word in a past blog post on his Impact Strategies website.

Is it a means to an end like developing strategies? Or the desired end such as the achievement of a strategic position? As Mike Stone points out, we even throw in other concepts into the mix – mission, vision, and/or impact.

Below is his definition of strategy and what it means:

The strategy conveys how your organization believes it can achieve the greatest mission impact in the most sustainable manner. To return to the words of Michael Porter, strategy is mostly about deciding what you will not do, thereby focusing attention and resources on those activities with the greatest mission value.

Dr. Stone’s definition does bring clarity to the word ‘strategy.’ However, how is ‘mission impact’ defined?

The mission impact describes the demonstrable changes that will result from the enactment of the strategy. Said another way, the impact statement operationalizes the mission by highlighting specific changes that occur at the client or participant level.

Got it?!

To read Mike Stone’s full blog post, click here.

New Book: Seven Keys to Successful Mentoring

Books are beginning to arrive from our recent order, and we’ll be reviewing them here over the next few weeks. 7keys-to-successful-mentoring

Seven Keys to Successful Mentoring by E. Wayne Hart is one of several books in the Ideas Into Action Series for managers and executives.  It is a small volume with a mere thirty-two pages, but it uses them efficiently.  The book is in a format I very much like – it is much like a manual with one to two pages per topic, with bulleted points and lists of questions it gets right to the point.  It is also a very colorful volume in this new edition!

What you’ll find inside:

  • What is mentoring?
  • The importance of mentoring
  • What mentors do
    • Develop & manage the mentoring relationship
    • Survey
    • Sponsor
    • Guide & counsel
    • Teach
    • Model
    • Motivate & inspire
  • Final thoughts

Summary: Continue reading

Is Your Strategy Sound? – Mike Stone, Impact Strategies

Mike Stone, of Impact Strategies with a plethora of experience in strategy work, has identified two key elements that make your strategy sound. The first is organizational core and the second is strategy driver.sound-strategy

Organizational core is defined by Mike as “your strongest competencies aimed at the highest priority needs of your targeted population, within your defined domain.” He uses the example about a nonprofit who’s mission it is to reduce recidivism of ex-offenders by giving them the tools necessary to gain and retain employment. So, their strongest competency would be educating, priority needs are the skills for gaining and retaining employment, and the domain would be the criminal justice system of the area.

The second piece, strategy driver, is the “nature of your business and consequently provides the lens through which program decisions and resource allocations are considered.” Now the ‘drivers’ can be three different options: client-driven (based on target population), service-driven (the nonprofit’s content expertise), or domain-driven (the nonprofit responding to the changing needs/preferences within their identified domain).

In utilizing Mike’s method of organizational core and strategy driver, your conversations about strategic development will be more focused and consistent.

To read Mike Stone’s full blog post about a sound strategy, click here.

Strategy – what is it?!

We’ve heard the word ‘strategy’ a lot lately at the PCNRC. Has the word been tossed around at your nonprofit? It’s definately a buzz word for the nonprofit sector.

strategyMike Stone, founder of Impact Strategies (a company “helping nonprofits make a difference”), is a guru when it comes to talking about strategy. On the Impact Strategies website, Mike has a blog with a treasure trove of strategy information. Over the next few months, we will be sharing some of his posts. The first one – you guessed it – is about the word ‘strategy.’

I agree with Mike – one needs to understand the word before moving into core conversations about another buzz term ‘strategic planning.’ He mentions that the basic of ‘strategy’ is organizational effectiveness. It encompasses the organization’s position, trade-offs, and fit.

To read Mike’s full post, click here.

Would you rather have a shark or a teddy bear?

Personally, I would like a teddy bear. They are soft, you can snuggle with it, and they are cute. Sharks on the other hand, not so much. I am sure they are great animals, just not in my house. So, what is your answer? Why the question in the first place? What does this have to do with the nonprofit sector? Well, let me tell you.

teddyA recent study from the University of Toronto was published about faces of leaders in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. The results of the three different studies were that “facial features of successful non-profit CEOs are noticeably different from leaders of for-profit companies.” Guess which one was the teddy bear and which one was the shark?! If you picked teddy bear for nonprofits, you’d be correct.

For the study, 169 participants were shown black and white head-shots of CEOs. They were asked to rank on “dominance, likability, facial maturing, trustworthiness, leadership, age, attractiveness, and happiness.” Scores were grouped together to determine what they called “power” and “warmth.” The for-profit CEO faces were scored as more “powerful” than nonprofit CEOs.

Daniel Re, co-author of the study, said that cut-throat sharks may not be the key to good leadership and “people who come off as more powerful won’t get as far or do as well working at non-profits.” My favorite quote from Re is – “[it’s] not necessarily that non-profits are picking softer-looking people, it’s that such people – perhaps drawn to working for a nobler cause…”

Long story short – get your organization a teddy bear.

Source: http://phys.org/news/2016-06-good-nonprofit-ceo-teddy-shark.html

Succession Planning and Leadership Transition Seminar

You are invited to attend a seminar hosted by the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne on August 31st.

Your board members value you, as the CEO/ED, and recognize their responsibility to ensure that your organization will continue to prosper. Yet, it can be difficult to begin a conversation about being prepared for an unexpected emergency, a resignation, or eventual retirement.

In this session, you will learn:CF Training

Succession Planning IS NOT:
• Naming a successor or beginning a search process
• A drawn out investment of time and energy
• Making the CEO/ED feel expendable

Succession planning IS:
• Making the CEO/ED job more “doable” for the current leader
• Developing current staff and board leaders
• Helping board and staff be prepared when the current CEO/ED eventually leaves or becomes unavailable

This session is designed for: nonprofit CEO/EDs, senior staff, and board members who want to ensure their organizations are equipped to sustain their work.

Make plans to attend this session at the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne (555 E. Wayne St.) on August 31, from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m., lead by Bryan Orander, President of Charitable Advisors.

Through his work at Charitable Advisors, Bryan focuses exclusively on not-for-profits in Executive Transition, Assessment and Strategic Planning, and Board Development. He has fifteen + years of experience consulting with nonprofit organizations, independently and as a project leader of a team of consultants.

Seating is limited. RSVP at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/succession-planning-and-leadership-transition-tickets-26658140215 by August 26. Please note that each person attending the seminar will have to RSVP individually using the link.

You Caught Me: A Fundraiser’s Journey

Kelly UpdikeKelly Updike for PCNRC

If you remember the June 2016 blog, I suggested that we make that our Deep Thinking Month. Did you do it? Well, did you at least do the not-thinking-about-anything-at-all part? I tried to do that last one but fell asleep, so I’ve had to pencil that time into July.

I confess that, during my Deep Thinking time in sunny-stormy June, it came to me that I need a lot of help. No, silly, I’m fine, not that kind of help. I mean the kind where I let go a little bit and allow, perhaps even assist, others in doing their jobs.

My organization is ready to create a new strategic plan. I have lots of thoughts on this and was talking to a couple of consultants about it when I realized … hey, … what does the board really want to do? Um, did I ask? Shouldn’t the leaders lead? So, we regrouped and they are now foremost in the discussion on this while also giving equal time to the staff in determining that direction.

We also are planning our budget for the new fiscal year and it occurred to me that several top staffers need and deserve some new opportunities. They might tell you that I need to let them off their chain. Oops. So, as we look at budget, of which personnel expense is the biggest percentage of course, this is a great chance to be strategic about growth and maturation for the people who ARE the organization. Here’s a cool online tool on Successful Delegation: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_98.htm

Best of all, there are others who want to help us make our leaders better. The Foellinger Foundation offers three types of Capacity Building grants: Transform, Renew and Inspire. Information is at http://www.foellinger.org/capacity-building/ In addition, the Foellinger Foundation recently launched the Barbara Burt Leadership Fund for nonprofit board members. That information is at http://www.foellinger.org/barbara-burt-leadership-fund. Questions about the fund can be directed to Christine Meek, Director of Programs at the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne.

You need a plan (July can be Deep Thinking Month, too), so take the time to pause, think, grow.

Interesting online resources are at:


The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.