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Recent events have made our decisions simpler but not easier

Over the past month, I’ve been helping organizations to adapt to the Coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown. I’ve helped them to reassess and refine their strategies and how they work. I’ve also helped organizations to downsize. This has been a painful process for everyone involved.

On the positive side, I’ve seen organizations use this opportunity to implement changes that have been overdue for some time. And some organizations that provide ‘essential services’ have even scaled their services to meet their growing demand.

But I’ve heard more sad stories than I’ve heard success stories.

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon during this time. It has seemed easier than usual to identify the constraints influencing our organizations and to make the required strategic decisions. In contrast, it has felt emotionally harder to make and implement these decisions. I’ve seen how leaders have suffered, and how they need time to grieve, reflect and heal.

This is the phenomenon that I’ll explore in this article.

Perspectives when assessing or designing a strategy

A while ago, we pitched to develop a strategic plan for an international non-profit organization. As part of our proposal, we needed to describe how we see ‘strategic planning’ and how we should adopt multiple perspectives when looking at organizations. A colleague and I drew this framework over a coffee chat at our local spot. It was then neatened up and integrated into our proposal.

I thought I’d share this short framework with you since you may find it thought provoking.

Four methods that non-profit organizations can use to develop project budgets for their funding proposals

This article will help you to think more broadly about developing project budgets for your funding proposals and donors. It will highlight four budgeting methods to include in your toolkit. This will help your organization to be more prepared, versatile and likely to build (as opposed to consume) its financial reserves.

Non-profit organizations tend to rely on grants for their survival. Fundraisers must be skilled at developing a narrative for how a project will achieve its impact, and how the anticipated activities and costs will serve this purpose.

I’ve worked with several organizations that routinely get the full funds they need for their projects. I’ve noticed they tend to use a variety of methods for developing project budgets. They have also developed innovative products, and have used marketing and PR to bolster their bargaining power.

In this article I will discuss four methods of developing project budgets. I will also discuss the issue of cost structure and bargaining power since these concepts are relevant to this conversation.

My thoughts on the shifts that this pandemic may encourage in South Africa

COVID-19 will change everything. Like a defining moment in history (such as the Great Depression, 1st and 2nd World Wars, 9/11 and the 1994 elections in South Africa), the future will take on a new course.

On the bright side, we will recover as we always do, though it may take several years before things are back on track.

This experience will influence how we behave in the future. This is evident as I finish this article in the first week of April 2020 during South Africa’s ‘lockdown’.

I’ve known the future to be unstable. This is why I’ve emphasized strategic conversation as opposed to long strategic documents. But I didn’t expect an event of this magnitude to erupt.

In this article, I explore ten interesting shifts or trends that are beginning to emerge as a result of this pandemic. While some of these will be positive, others will need to be carefully monitored.

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.

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