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Social enterprise glossary

We’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.

When are business ideas good ideas?

In the past month, I’ve had several conversations with non-profit organizations and social enterprises about when a business opportunity is a good opportunity.

This got me thinking more explicitly about this topic. I also debated it with my colleagues.

We concluded that while there is definitely a need for these organizations to explore opportunities to generate revenue, too many organizations are rushing blindly forward without proper consideration or due-diligence.

This short presentation captures my ideas on the subject. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Enterprise and supplier development (SED) for non-profits and social enterprises

I frequently have conversations with non-profit organizations and social enterprises that are working to establish and strengthen small businesses.

We often discuss how these organizations can enter into a commercial relationship with larger businesses (“corporates”) to speed up their Enterprise & Supplier Development (ESD) efforts.

This short presentation explores three opportunities for collaboration and provides some useful background information. There are others opportunities (e.g. establishing an investment fund, or providing consulting services), but these are more specialized and less common, and therefore not discussed.

These opportunities are created by South African legislation, specifically the Amended B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice.

End-of-year reflection for 2019

Here is my end-of-year reflection for 2019. It provides insight into my work as a management consultant for non-profit organizations and social enterprises in South Africa.

I believe strongly in the value of deliberate reflection. Therefore, I write regularly in my journal and strive to do weekly reviews. 

This article reflects on some key trends I’ve observed and the work I’ve been doing. It also looks at some lessons I’ve learned and changes I intend to make in 2020. 

Why a management consultant uses an iPad for most of his work

Have you ever wondered whether you could work exclusively on a tablet? This article shares my experiences and insights on this subject, and how as a management consultant I’ve been able to do most of my work on it. 

I bought an iPad four months ago. I’ve never owned a tablet before. Now I’m using it to do 75% of my work; I still require my laptop to do the remaining 25%. I aspire to go ‘iPad only’ but I still need to make some shifts in how I work. 

The principles of this article will apply to any modern professional tablet with a stylus. However, I chose an iPad after watching colleagues hand write their notes on the screen using the Apple Pencil. I wanted a simpler computing experience and hoped that this device might offer it. I was also inspired by Michael and Radek on The Podcast, who frequently talk about how they use their iPads and how it has forced them to rethink how they work.

Identifying Simple, Complex and Wicked Problems

I’ve been helping organizations to solve some very difficult problems over the past months. This got me reflecting on the different categories of problems that are confronting social enterprises and non-profit organizations, both within themselves and the communities they’re striving to serve.

In this article I’ll discuss the difference between Simple, Complex and Wicked Problems, and how to identify them. I will provide many real-life examples.

Those of us who work in the social sector have an intuitive grasp of these problems.

How to develop a philosophy, vision and mission for your organization

Every organization has a philosophy.

Some organizations make it explicit and write it down. This helps their leaders to craft focused strategies and make decisions during difficult times. It also makes it easier for them to communicate with stakeholders and induct employees into their culture.

But for the majority of organizations, their philosophies are informal and unspoken.

The board and CEO are responsible for articulating the philosophy of an organization, and ensuring that its strategy, culture and operations are congruent.

In this article I discuss the philosophy, vision, mission, purpose and values of non-profit organizations and social enterprises. I provide some practical tips for how to craft these. My insights are based on over two decades of such work.

Passion is earned not found

The quickest way to troll me is to complain that you haven’t found work you’re passionate about. That you are somehow a victim of misfortune because of this.

It is the one behavior that will guarantee a lecture from me.

This is what happened yesterday. Someone close to me complained about this topic and I provided a monologue in response. 

To save time in the future, I decided to be expedient and write my thoughts down. Then when this happens again, I can just shut up and send them a link. It will save us all time.

Here are my thoughts on finding work you’re passionate about.

Manifesto on strategic clarity

Most of my time is spent helping leaders of non-profit organizations and social enterprises to cultivate strategic clarity.

I want them to think clearly about their organizations. I want them to make sensible decisions and act swiftly upon them.

But I’ve noticed how easily we get lost in the activities, documents and tools of strategy. These can become an end in themselves.

I recommend we shift our attention to what we’re trying to achieve: clarity of thinking and good decision-making. Then we become open to possibilities we never considered before. Sometimes, all we need is a good night’s sleep.

This article explores some creative ideas for how we can improve our strategic clarity.

Estimating probabilities is key to strategy

Leaders must be good at taking bets against the future. They must be able to choose a course of action that is most likely to advance their organization in an uncertain world. Competent leaders make the right bets most of the time; bad leaders don’t.

However, many of the leaders I help are overwhelmed by the strategic choices facing their non-profit organization or social enterprise. 

They have realized that they have limited resources such as time, attention, money and people. They recognize that they cannot pursue all opportunities. Neither can they protect against all threats and risks, with equal enthusiasm, despite wanting to do so. They have learned that the future is uncertain and unpredictable. They have begun to accept their limitations as leaders.

Leaders must learn how to embrace the ‘agony of choice’. They must become skilled at estimating probabilities. They must learn to act swiftly with imperfect information.

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In pursuit of strategic clarity

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