The Greek philosopher Heraclitus observed that “Nothing endures but change,” and truer words were never spoken. These days, it seems that changes are coming at us faster than ever and effective change management is the key to success. Thoughtful leaders are watching two forces that will challenge nonprofit organizations in the coming year.
- Politics: We’re living through a time of intense political conflicts, and it looks as if those conflicts will continue. It’s getting harder to achieve consensus on political questions, and all too often our legislators at all levels are deadlocked on crucial policy questions. Assume that you’ll have to find your own way. Existing regulatory frameworks and funding sources will be strained, and legislative solutions to your organization’s problems probably will be difficult to come by.
- Pandemic: Recent announcements of promising vaccines offer renewed hope for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it will be some time before mass inoculations are complete. The next few months will try all of us, and a “new normal” may be years away. For the near term, at least, office-based workplaces, face-to-face meetings with colleagues and clients, and business travel will be the exceptions, not the rule.
Long-term plans can fade in significance in the face of short-term emergencies, and it may be necessary to take first things first. Starboard recommends that you talk with your staff and your board and agree on the most critical issues you’re facing. Take a hard look at your mission and identify the principles that will guide your decisions. Then identify priorities for action in the next six to twelve months.
Expect that your organization will need to evolve, to change in an ongoing fashion in response to our dynamic environment. Discard the notion that a quick change will “hold you over” until you can revert to normal. Be prepared to embrace the uncertainty and to act with courage. Anticipate that the people around you will be stressed by those changes. When new challenges arise remind your people about your shared philosophy and your rules for decision-making. Strong leaders will prevail by reaffirming the organization’s core values and by acting with clarity and consistency.
If you’d like to discuss the changes affecting your organization, give us a call. Our experienced consultants are available for a free initial discussion, and you will incur no continuing obligations. We want to help you succeed.
Mike Hyde authored this blog post in his role as a consulting partner and executive coach at Starboard.