How to change your thinking to make 2016 your best year yet.

We’re quickly coming up on the end of 2015, and it’s time to start thinking about the new year. How can you help your nonprofit board and leadership team ignite its entrepreneurial spirit and begin the new year fresh, lively, and with a clear focus on what is important? With all the pressure on boards and nonprofit leaders, its to see how an agency board and its leaders might slip into a pattern of predictability and safe decision-making. But that could be the very reason your agency is underperforming and would benefit from a real shot in the arm.

If you continue doing the same things you did last year but just working harder, you will probably end up with the same results as this year. What would that mean for you, your board, and your clients? Simply doing the same things as last year while attempting to throw more effort behind them, rarely leads to new results. So the question is, how can you reinstall a sense of urgency, fresh thinking, and boldness into your agency this coming year?

One way to insure your agency does not simply repeat last year (and last year’s results) all over again is to challenge everyone to think and act differently for 2016.

To generate some interesting discussion, pose these to your board at upcoming board meetings, and your leadership team at upcoming staff meetings. You might be pleasantly surprised at what the board and your team come up with if you take 15 minutes at the beginning of your next several meetings. Make a goal to discuss one of these questions each month and encourage them to think outside the box.

Here are the 5 questions you should be asking.

  1. Let’s assume 2016 was a tremendously success year for the agency. What did we do to make it so?
  2. To improve our agency’s impact and effectiveness, what should we: stop doing immediately;start doing immediately; and protect at all costs?
  3. What are the top 2-3 problems we faced last year and how can we fix them in the new year?
  4. What was our biggest disappointment this past year and how can we address it in 2016?
  5. If we were suddenly faced with 3-4 unanticipated openings on the board today—right now—what type of candidates should we be identifying and recruiting immediately?

Its important that you capture all the ideas generated in these discussions and assign a team, or several teams, to study them and report back at upcoming meetings. There may be some real gold from these discussions that can help you break out of the doldrums and get your agency back on track.

So what else can you do to make 2016 your best year ever? I have one last suggestion for you and it involves your board. As retiring directors rotate off the board and and attend their very last meeting, ask them to take out a piece of paper and write down everything they feel the agency absolutely must do in the next 6 months. You may be surprised at what you hear. You may gain some incredible insight from their feedback. Insight you couldn’t have gained in any other way.

The only way to break out of the box of “same old, same old” thinking and bring new energy and freshness into your agency is to encourage and reward bold thinking at every opportunity. Doing this can help you kickstart an awesome 2016.

To assess the strengths of your board and nonprofit, and find out if you’re on track for a good 2016, take the Break Through quiz. You can also get more help for your nonprofit, and find resources to help with your planning here.