Strategic conversations are more important than strategic planning

When was the last time you had a conversation about your organization’s strategy? A deep conversation about what it must do to fulfil its destiny? These conversations are priceless. Many social entrepreneurs find them more useful than conventional strategic-planning sessions.

This article discusses the value of the strategic conversation. It also provides some suggestions for how to cultivate this good habit with your leadership team.

Social enterprise journey

This 1-page Strategy Brief illustrates the Journey to Social Enterprise, which I’ve unpacked in detail in a previous presentation.

I believe that social enterprise is more of a direction than an end state. In South Africa, thousands of organizations are heading in this direction. Social enterprise is still in its infancy. This brief provides a simple overview of the journey and the transition points that need to managed.

Social enterprise glossary

I’ve designed this glossary to help social enterprises and non-profit organizations in South Africa think clearly about their strategies and business models.

Strategic clarity involves clear thinking, and clear thinking requires clarity of language. Many of us also rely too much on jargon, which clutters our minds and encourages lazy and fuzzy thinking.

Here is some of the terminology that I regularly use in my consulting practice and lectures, and my short descriptions of what each term means in simple English.

How a business can become a social enterprise

This 1-page Strategy Brief shares 8 strategies that businesses can use to integrate elements of a social enterprise into their thinking and operations. This also shows how it is possible to adapt one’s legal form to introduce social enterprise elements.

How a lean cost structure can improve financial sustainability

Like most commercial organizations, non-profit organizations and social enterprises should strive to keep their fixed costs as lean as possible. Those that do this properly will be more likely to survive financial shocks and stresses, and create dynamic and sustainable organizations.

While many of these organizations have already achieved this state, this article targets those social entrepreneurs who believe their organizations have become too expensive to maintain on an ongoing basis, or are about to enter a risky and uncertain financial territory.

This article shares some important lessons I’ve learned through assisting these organizations to develop budgets, build financial models and review their financial structure.

How to become a sustainable non-profit organization

This presentation investigates the meaning of “financial sustainability” and why non-profit organizations are feeling the pressure to become “sustainable”. It also highlights the importance of getting stakeholders to embrace these changes that are sweeping through South Africa’s non-profit sector, and the risks of not doing this properly.

The presentation shares 12 practical shifts or tactics that I’ve seen non-profit organizations use to improve their financial sustainability. The presentation ends with an outline of how you can develop your own sustainability strategy.

I developed this presentation for a “masterclass” on financial sustainability that I facilitated on 1 December 2017. This formed part of the Drivers of Change Awards, which were hosted by the Southern Africa Trust.

Ten characteristics of a social enterprise mindset

This one-page Strategy Brief identifies 10 characteristics of successful social enterprises, and demonstrates how all non-profit organizations and businesses can learn how to behave and think in this way. This brief also differentiates between the mindset and business model of a social enterprise.

The many facets of social enterprise

I see “social enterprise” as a multi-faceted concept, much like a gemstone will appear differently when examined from different perspectives. Social enterprise is a “concept space”, rather than just a “business space”.

This approach has served me well in my consulting work. It has given me a framework and language to explain things and support organizations on their journey. It has provided social entrepreneurs with increased strategic clarity.

This thought-piece unpacks the six principle facets of social enterprise as I see it.

Six income tactics that all social enterprises can pursue

This one-page Strategy Brief explains how versatile the legal forms of social enterprises in South Africa can be. It shows 6 tactics for generating income that all social enterprises can use, regardless of whether that form is for-profit or non-profit.

What do we mean by “organizational sustainability”?

Non-profit organizations and social enterprises in South Africa are desperately striving to become “sustainable”. I believe that organizations should have a broader view of “sustainability” and be precise when discussing it. This will make it much easier for these organizations to develop “sustainability strategies”.

This short article explores 10 facets of “organizational sustainability”.

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Cultivating strategic clarity.

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