Sunday, February 28, 2016

Strategic Intent. Board Foresight. Association Rebranding.



In the last five months, three nonprofit associations have engaged me to facilitate strategic intent workshops with their boards.

Ironically, one common outcome from all three organizations: a decision to rename and rebrand.

After the third association surfaced a desire to rename their organization, I reflected back to see if there was anything I was doing that “pushed” them toward rebranding.

I don’t think so.

The commonality of the work process:

  • online survey research of members and stakeholders
  • the Strategic Intent process whereby the organization confirms where it is and then looks forward to where it wants to be/what it wants to become.
Each organization came to the rebranding decision for its own reasons:
  • One forecasted continued consolidation which meant fewer traditional members. They looked at a new name as an opportunity to cast a wider net for non-traditional members.
  • One recognized their existing name no longer fit what it was doing.
  • The third decided its acronym did not fully describe what it did.
For all three organizations, I used the strategic intent process (above). The approach asks the participants to define what they want their organization to look like 3-5 years into the future. I’ve used this process for the last 8-10 years.

So when I read Jeff De Cagna’s The Board's Duty of Foresight in AssociationsNow, it resonated with me.

Here are some key points from Jeff’s piece:
  • The transformation already underway, however, is coming from all directions at an exponential rate, and it will continue to accelerate and intensify in every field of human endeavor over the next decade and beyond. No industry or profession will be exempt.
  • Preparing their organizations and stakeholders for whatever comes next, then, will require association boards, along with other governing contributors, to collaborate and embrace what I call the duty of foresight.
Three core concepts form the foundation of the duty of foresight:
  1. Strategic legitimacy. The organizational inertia created by valuing the past more than the future damages the credibility and legitimacy of association boards.
  2. Board stewardship. Association boards also must nurture a shared responsibility for future-focused stewardship. 
  3. Readiness to learn. Even as the ability to learn emerges as the primary differentiator between success and failure in a world in flux, many association boards still struggle to make learning a genuine priority.

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