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November 6, 2012

Strategy and stakeholder engagement

Executive Director’s note from Issue 2, November 2012.

Duncan Peppercorn

“Strategy!” A word to gladden the hearts of non-profit boards all over the country (not to mention sending a frisson through young management consultants). “At last: we’re being given the chance to dream the big dreams and set the BHAGs!”

Which isn’t always such a good idea. “Strategy” is really about deciding where to go next; and unlike our commercial cousins who know that they are trying to maximise shareholder returns, setting strategy in our sector is similar to deciding where to go on holiday with the family: pretty much everyone has a different view, and most of the views are valid.

We’ve seen many organisations struggling to cut through the confusion and land on a clear direction. Others have ended up with unrealistic goals, and the strategic plan has proved irrelevant and unhelpful. Some just fudge it, and write a strategic plan that summarises everyone’s opinions into one improbable whole: we’re going to the Gold Coast to see the terracotta army while bungy jumping off the Eiffel tower.

In this second issue of the Quarterly, we offer some advice and experience on getting to a strategy that is wise, helpful, clear, realistic and exciting. We have included some thoughts about the role of the board, the challenge of focus, and involving staff and other stakeholders. We have also spoken to a number of senior CEOs to get their thoughts on how they managed their first 100 days in the job: a critical period of strategic re-evaluation for any organisation. As always, we offer case examples; this time from the Centre for Eye Research Australia and Alzheimer’s Australia NSW. We are grateful to all our clients, and others who have been happy to share their stories.

We have received great feedback from you about the first issue, and we have made some changes in response, including a better navigation bar and the opportunity to comment. Please keep offering feedback! Our objective is that we all learn, share and change… for the better.

Duncan Peppercorn

Duncan Peppercorn
(Former) Executive Director SVA Consulting

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