A Best-Laid Plan That Might Actually Come to Pass
One year ago this week, a close colleague and I drafted a plan to create a readable monograph that presents a compelling case for managing for impact, distribute it to the majority of nonprofit executives and boards with a predisposition to manage with rigor, and work to make the monograph a priority read for this target audience.
Thanks to the contributions of many colleagues over the subsequent nine months, our brief monograph serendipitously grew into a book. And thanks to the generous reviews and responses since our launch two months ago, our July 2010 plan is looking less airy and aspirational and more reasonable and realistic.
Before we take a brief communications break during the dog days of August, we want to share a few recent signs that the books message appears to be resonating with the intended audience.
But first I want to commend to you a short Book Notes video that McKinsey has just produced to introduce the key themes from the book. If you can abide the aging, balding, fast-talking Italian guy, youll enjoy hearing from Leap of Reason contributor and McKinsey partner Lynn Taliento and former White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry. I think it offers a nice appetizer portion of the book and might encourage busy leaders to dig into the full meal.
Now for the promising signs:
- Michael Bailin, a leading thought leader in the social sector and the former president of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, decided to share copies of the book with the senior staffs and all members of the four nonprofit boards on which he sits as well as the CEOs and boards of several of his clients: I can say that without a doubt this book is the most useful, practical, down to the real-deal publication of this kind that I have come across in my decades of not-for-profit work, he wrote to his board colleagues.
- The Center for Effective Philanthropy’s Phil Buchanan blogged last week, The book is a must read for anyone who cares about impact. Funders who are not currently supporting their nonprofit grantees efforts to assess and improve would do well to read it. Better yet, if funders want to help grantees with this difficult task, they could, as a very modest first step, order them the book and open up the conversation about what is standing in the way of assessmentand what they can do to help. Indeed, Leap of Reason should be the first assignment in the foundation-grantees book club.”
- NYU Professor Paul Light, the author of 25 books on the nonprofit and public sectors, emailed to say, Ive not only read the book, Im using it in my fall class on social entrepreneurship. Its terrific. Well organized, well argued, entirely accessible to experts, givers, and start-ups. A great contribution to the field.”
- Nell Edgington, the author of the respected Social Velocity blog, told her readers, As I read this book, I kept wanting to shout out, Amen! Finally someone argues so clearly why understanding if a social solution is working is not a luxury or a nice to have but rather an absolute necessity for our new reality.”
- Judy Vredenburgh, the president and CEO of Girls Inc., wrote to tell us that she was using the book to prepare for the launch of her Outcomes Planning Team. Little did we know that the book would be both so readable and refreshing in making the case for managing for mission results [and] would provide common language for becoming a performance-oriented culture and leading network-wide change. I personally devoured the book…. It’s becoming our ‘Bible.'”
Weve just added a new feature on the leapofreason.org website called What People Are Saying to highlight articles/blogs about the book, share reader responses, archive the Updates we send to readers, and make it easy to sign up for future Updates.
If you have an upcoming board meeting, staff retreat, or strategic planning session and feel the book could help, please let us know. Wed be pleased to send copies for such use. Just write to us at email@example.com or visithttp://www.leapofreason.org for more information.
Here’s hoping you enjoy the rest of the summer (despite the heat most of us are experiencing). Well reach out again in September.
– Mario Morino
“Stories substituting for facts is like fingernails on a chalkboard for me!”
“You have to have undying passion for the population you’re serving. We can spend time patting ourselves on the back for the 85 percent of the kids who are doing really well in our program. But we need to be as concerned about the 15 percent who aren’t succeeding and learn how we can improve for them.”
“Through a process of self-reflection, our board members asked themselves fundamental questions: How can we improve? How can we make a greater impact?”
“Youre taking someone elses money to get into somebody elses life to try to make a difference. You better be showing you can make a difference!”
“Managing to outcomes is not about simply counting things or gathering information. And it is not about satisfying funders. It is an internal effort aimed at figuring out what works and what doesn’t, so that the organization can provide the best possible services to its clients”
“Every day, you have to say, How can we do this more efficiently and more effectively? Its in our DNA.”
The Leap of Reason Update, our monthly newsletter, highlights stories of high-performing organizations and courageous leaders striving to produce greater impact, at a lower cost, for those they serve. Useful articles, coming events, and other resources that have informed our own learning are regular features.