Back in January I posed these questions and asked you to consider them…“If I were creating my organization TODAY, what is the best way to set it up? Are we organized that way? What is getting in the way of our ideal envisioned structure?”

Today, I’d like to take this discussion a step further. What should you do if your answer is “we are not organized as we should be and that is going to inhibit our effectiveness within the next few years”?

This is one of the biggest challenges nonprofit leaders face: bringing change to an agency that today is successful and making an impact. In your heart you know you could “coast’ for a while but it is clear to you-as the caretaker of your organization’s mission and operations-that the external environment is telling you changes are needed for the agency because the next 5 years will be drastically different than the previous 5 years.

Here are a couple of macro thoughts you should keep in mind…

First, I suggest you have an open and frank discussion with your board president and the directors. You need to get them on your side and supportive of the need for change. They will appreciate your directness, your thoughtfulness, and your desire to “do the right thing”, knowing full well that it will be a lot of work for everybody. Since your board undoubtedly has several business people on it, they will quickly “get it” since their own companies probably have been forced to make some tough changes too. They will support your efforts.

Next come the leadership team, the staff, and key volunteers-in that order. You will need to build a burning platform convincing them that that staying “as is” is not an option, and why. You do this by describing the future if nothing changes, including the pain that will be experienced and the anticipated operational shortcomings if things stay the same.

Next comes a planning session. You will need to determine what the future probably will look like and how it could impact you. With that, you can now brainstorm how you will prepare for it. This process should involve all key internal stakeholders-directors, the leadership team, program directors, and key volunteer leaders. In order to get buy-in for the changes that are coming, it is critical that everyone who will be responsible for carrying out the changes has a voice and is a part of this process.

Once you have a direction and a plan to get there, it is time to communicate, communicate, and communicate. You will probably have to repeat the key message points at least two dozen times over the next few months. People need to be reminded why they are going through all the pain and inconvenience.

Finally, you should look for ways to support everyone as they execute on the new vision and direction.  As leadership expert Ken Blanchard said a long time ago in The One Minute Manager…”Catch them doing something right”.

There are many smaller steps you need to take but these are a few that will give you some structure to build upon as you think through how you will prepare your agency for the next 5 years…not relive the past 5 years.  Call me and let’s talk about this…