Friday, October 2, 2009

Does your charity have a commander's intent?

I love the notion of a commander's intent, articulated so well by the Heath brothers in the must read, Made to Stick. Side note: if you haven't read this little gem, do it.

To quote the Heath's, “Commander’s Intent manages to align the behavior of soldiers at all levels without requiring play-by-play instructions from their leaders. When people know the desired destination, they’re free to improvise as needed in arriving there.”

Probably the most best example of this was the now famous quote from President Kennedy: "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth."

At the time of his statement, no American had even orbited the earth. In fact, the U.S. had sent the first American into space only 20 days earlier

Some challenge, huh?

The point wasn't about the detail, or the journey to get there, it was about the end goal.

This makes me think back to Jon Duschinsky's book, Philanthropy in a Flat World: Inspiration Through Globalization. I love the part in here about rationalization.

Jon talks about the fact that most charities fail to rationalize and rather being bloody good, in fact the best, at just one thing, they end up being average at lots of things.

And hence the reason why I believe many organization's don't have a commander's intent.

We try to be too many things to too many people. If we were focused on one overarching goal, you could argue the outcomes and impact delivered by charities would be far greater.


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