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 book’s 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, you’ll 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 assessment—and 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, “I’ve not only read the book, I’m using it in my fall class on social entrepreneurship. It’s 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.'”

We’ve 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. We’d be pleased to send copies for such use. Just write to us at info@leapofreason.org 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). We’ll reach out again in September.

– Mario Morino