02 April 2013
This morning I gave £1billion to a charity that I helped set up and that I’ve worked with since 2008. Generous huh?
Ok – so it wasn’t real money. It wasn’t even virtual money. And I had to take back the imaginary £1billion later on in the day. What a scrooge!
But we certainly put the idea of £1billion to good use. And I don’t mean thinking about how we would spend it.
We were having a strategy planning morning. The charity has been working hard, doing what it does well (homelessness support), and generally getting a good name for itself amongst its partner agencies.
But there are fundamental strategic issues that used to be on the horizon, and now are a whole lot closer. And we needed to take some time out from the day-to-day focus on delivery to think strategically about the present context, future plans, and how to resource it all.
We started by looking again at our vision for the charity, and believe me – there was no end of vision. It just needed a bit of dusting off and polishing, having got buried amongst the clutter of service delivery and funding requirements.
Unfortunately, we got stuck in a bit of rut. We kept coming back to shaping the vision around where we are now, with the limitations of current resources and the baggage of history always drawing our eyes down from the horizon back to our own two feet.
And stuck in the here-and-now, we just couldn’t get back to the task of dreaming big, which should be the goal of all vision-making.
And then it struck me. “Imagine I’ve just given you £1billion.” I said. “Here it is – on the table”. (Imaginary casting of huge wads of cash).
Now, forget about the limitations of where we are – those aren’t relevant anymore. What’s our vision? We can do what we like, any way we like.
And that’s all it needed. Suddenly, liberated from daily cares, we were free to think big. “But what about this issue or that issue?” “It doesn’t matter, we can do what we like, any way we like!”
Over the course of the next hour or so we really nailed the problems we wanted to address, the causes of those problems, and why tackling them were important to us; important in their own right. We worked out what approaches we need to explore, and for whom. And we reaffirmed the distinctive manner in which we would address them. In short, we defined (perhaps reasserted) our vision, mission and values for the charity and its work.
Then I took the £1billion off the table.
“Now, what do we do today, tomorrow, this year, with what we’ve got”. Next we could turn our wills towards objective-setting, confident that we were all moving in the same direction and determined to press forwards in our mission, even if it the reality of the present times require that we do that one step at a time.
So next time your strategy-planning stalls because you can’t see beyond your very-real problems, trying throwing ridiculous sums of money at it. It’s truly liberating!
Get in touch if you have any novel approaches to Strategy Planning, or if Fruitful:fundraising can help you with yours.