Ten principles that guide my strategy work

My strategy work is guided by a set of philosophies or beliefs that have evolved over the past two decades. These principles permeate all my strategy work while giving it a unique flavour. They help me to get the results I desire. Here are the top 10 that stand out.

Thinking about income generation and profit in a non-profit world

Non-profit organizations and social enterprises that wish to design sustainability strategies need to have clarity around the concepts of income generation and profit, and how to achieve them.

This article aims to debunk some misconceptions around income generation, equity investments, loan finance, and the profits or surpluses that these organizations may generate or receive.

It explains that income and profit emerges from how an organization transacts with its customers. This approach will require organizations to learn new skills, practice new habits and adopt a different mindset. Although embarking on this process may feel intimidating at first, the benefits of being in a stronger strategic and financial position should make it worthwhile.

Social enterprise in South Africa: reflection on trends in 2016

Every December I reflect on the trends among social enterprises in South Africa. I find this exercise very valuable. This year I’ve decided to share my reflection with you.

Here are the top 10 interesting issues or trends I’ve observed in 2016. Note that this is a personal reflection of my experiences; not an unbiased and objective analysis of the sector.

Journey to social enterprise

Social enterprises do not magically appear. They are the result of many years of hard work. The good news is that thousands of South African organizations have set out on their journey to become social enterprises.

This presentation describes the Journey to Social Enterprise. It is based on 20 years of observation and consulting to aspiring social enterprises.

It describes how non-profit organizations and businesses can move towards a state of social enterprise. It unpacks and names the strategic transition points that organizations need to overcome when moving towards social enterprise. It also describes the specific skills that organizations need to master at each transition point.

Social enterprise – implications for South Africa’s non-profit sector

The South African Accounting Academy runs an annual conference for non-profit organizations (“NPO Conference”). I was invited to speak in the May 2016 conference on one of my favorite topics. Here is the presentation I gave.

This presentation explores the pros and cons of the traditional charity model versus the social enterprise model. It explains why the golden age of non-profit funding is over. It emphasizes the importance of adopting either the business model or mindset of a social enterprise. The presentation also reveals some of the challenges that non-profit organizations will experience on their Journey to Social Enterprise.

Don’t just rely on grant funding for your survival

This article was published in the January 2015 edition of the Small Business Connect newspaper. It is part 6 in a series of 11 articles that unpacks the mind-set of a social enterprise and discusses the principles from Think like a Social Enterprise.

This article discusses the problem of relying on donations or grant funding for one’s survival. It argues that this short-sighted approach increases risk and limits social impact.

Greater Capital is profiled in this edition. This social enterprise earns 100% of its income from its research and consulting services.

Refine your business model and show value for money

This article was published in the December 2014 edition of the Small Business Connect newspaper. It is part 5 in a series of 11 articles that unpacks the mind-set of a social enterprise and discusses the principles from Think like a Social Enterprise.

This article discusses how organizations must be able to demonstrate value for money. In other words, donors, investors and beneficiaries must feel that they are getting a good deal given the price versus the quality social outcomes that are being achieved.

This edition profiles Malcolm Boyd from Our Governance – a social enterprise that has developed an online training programme to improve the governance of non-profit organizations.

Define the positive outcomes your enterprise achieves

This article was published in the October 2014 edition of the Small Business Connect newspaper. It is part 3 in a series of 11 articles that unpacks the mind-set of a social enterprise and discusses the principles from Think like a Social Enterprise.

This month’s article discusses why it is so important to measure social outcomes. It presents the logic model which describes the relationships between inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes. It also discusses how the measurement of outcomes can help organizations to refine their business models and attract funding and investment.

Josh Cox from Trade-Mark is profiled in this edition. This social enterprise links skilled township tradesman with suburban households in need of their services. This profile discusses how Trade-Mark made a major breakthrough after its started measuring its social outcomes.

Clearly define the purpose of your enterprise

This article was published in the September 2014 edition of the Small Business Connect newspaper. It is part 2 in a series of 11 articles that unpacks the mind-set of a social enterprise and discusses the principles from Think like a Social Enterprise.

When I started in the social sector in 1996, it was common for organizations to have vision and mission statements. These tended to be extremely abstract and provide no strategic focus. It is unfortunate how many organizations wonder through life without a sense of where they’re going. This article discusses the importance of clarity of purpose and the ability to clearly state one’s purpose without using jargon.

This edition also profiles Karen Moss from Steps, and organization that has healed clubfoot in over 8,200 children in Southern Africa since 2005. This organization has incredible clarity of purpose and this clarity has been a building block in its success.

Think like a social enterprise – the ebook

I’ve discovered that social enterprise is both a business model and a paradigm or way of thinking. While the social enterprise business model is only suitable for some organizations, I believe that almost all organizations with a social agenda can benefit from embracing the mind-set of a social enterprise.

This e-book from June 2014 describes each of the 10 principles that underpin the way that social enterprises think. This is relevant to all types of organizations.

View newer writingsView older writings

Cultivating strategic clarity.

Back to top of page ↑