Last week I posted about evaluating your Executive Director (and everything else about your organization) based on what they accomplish, rather than simply what they do. So how can you transform your organization from one that does things, to an organization that accomplishes things? Here are 11 ways to get you started:
1 – The Job of the Board:
The board’s job is to lead the organization to accomplish great things for the community – to aim the organization at its potential, on behalf of the community. So Step 1 is knowing, if the buck stops with the board (which it does), the board’s role is all about accomplishing vs. doing.
2 – Learn from the Past:
Check out your last “strategic” plan. Why do I put “strategic” in quotes? Because that’s what you will look for: Was the plan really strategic? Was it aiming to accomplish something critical? Or was it just a big long to-do list?
What would have been different about the plan itself – the wording, the planning approach, the questions the plan answered – if it had been more focused on accomplishing?
3 – Plan Annually:
Really. Every year gather the leaders of the organization to determine what your organization will accomplish over the following year. If you are not planning annually (and especially if it has been a LONG time since your last plan), I can almost guarantee you are just doing, rather than accomplishing.
4 – Planning (Again):
During your annual planning session, determine what you want the organization to have accomplished by the end of the following year. Ask yourselves:
• What do you want to be different / better next year than it is this year?
• How do you want your community and your clients to be better off than they are today?
Base your plan’s to-do tactics and strategies on that.
5 – Planning (One More Time!):
In creating those plans, as you ask, “What will be different?” make the next question, “For whom?”
Then examine: How much are you aiming at making your organization better vs. making your community better? While both the organization and the community are important, in the long run, one is more important. If we are going to create amazing communities, that has to be the highest priority on the list.
(Bonus tip: Aiming at making a difference in the community and engaging the community in that effort will make your organization stronger internally as well. Check out the ‘True Story’ in the middle of this article)
6 – Plan Now to Measure Later:
Once you have determined what you want to accomplish and for whom, determine right then and there how you will measure to know if that has happened.
• What indicators will you look for?
• If you are successful, how will you know?
• If you are not successful, how will you know?
7 – Make Definitive Assignments:
One of the reasons folks end up doing rather than accomplishing is that doing is what they were assigned. They were assigned to “make a call,” rather than, “gathering the information that will move this project forward.”
So when you make assignments – any assignment – make sure those who are receiving the assignment know what they will be held responsible for accomplishing, not just doing. “By next year/month/week, we want you to have accomplished X.”
8 – Annual Report:
Make your annual report all about what you accomplished. Don’t talk about what you did unless it is in the context of what all that doing eventually accomplished. What is different now than it was a year ago? For whom? Why is that important?
Too often annual reports are a litany of what we did. If we are doing a lot and accomplishing little, who cares?
Bonus tip: Write NEXT year’s annual report now! Sit down right now, and sketch out what you want to be able to brag about having accomplished in next year’s annual report. Work backwards to fill in plans that will accomplish exactly that.
9 – Executive Director Evaluation – Planning Ahead:
Plan to base next year’s Executive Director evaluation on his/her accomplishments. Look at your annual plan, look at interim steps, look at all the directives the board has given at the board table, and determine: What do we want our ED to accomplish this year? What do we want to base our evaluation on?
Bonus tip: Create your ED Evaluation checklist for next year immediately after you create your annual plan. Provide that checklist to your ED, letting him/her know a year ahead of time, “Here is what we expect you to accomplish, and here is what we will be evaluating.” This is the most supportive way you can encourage your employee – your ED – to do the best job possible.
10 – Board Agenda:
For every item on your board’s agenda, know ahead of time what you want that item to accomplish. After having discussed that item, where will you be that is different from where you are now? If the answer is, “Nowhere different,” take that item off the agenda, and put it with your board’s reporting items or on its consent agenda. Your board does not have time to waste discussing things that will not make things considerably different after the discussion than they were before.
Bonus tip: Let the board and staff know at the beginning of each board meeting, “This is where we intend to be at the end of the meeting. This is what will be different an hour from now than it is now.” And encourage them to keep each other on task!
11 – Board Annual Plan and Self-Assessment:
Boards are used to creating plans for the organization. Boards are NOT used to creating plans for themselves. When boards fail to create an annual plan for what they want to accomplish as a board, they are guaranteeing that the board’s work will be aimed merely at doing.
Every year, have the board determine what the board wants to accomplish, and for whom. Will it be an orientation and ongoing education program for the board, to ensure future boards are in great shape? Will it be a plan for engaging the community?
Bonus tip: Once you know ahead of time what the board wants to accomplish, and you have a plan, measure to see how the board is doing. Are you making a difference? For whom? Now that’s a board self-evaluation with meaning!
12 – Bonus: What has worked for you?
Please share how your organization aims at accomplishing vs. doing. We want to be able to share great examples!
The Pollyanna Principles will help your organization accomplish all the community improvement you can imagine. Read more here.