It's All About Execution

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A non-profit client of mine recently handed me a report. This report focused on donor development and outlined the organization’s plans to grow deeper relationships with those on their database.

It was an impressive report. Really. There were statistics, graphs, charts, and spreadsheets. It was attractively designed to the point that I really wanted to read it. But after looking at it I simply stated something like, “Great report. Really impressive. It will never happen.”

You see, I’ve seen lots of wonderful reports that would win prizes in terms of content. I’ve even written many of them. But my experience has been that few come to fruition. I’ve come to believe that many development officers love to plan and think big thoughts. Hours are often spent producing documents that explain in vivid detail ways in which we can change our world. The pathetic result too often is that we don’t.

The problem is not content, it’s execution.

After 40 plus years of doing this work, it’s hard to comprehend how I’ve failed to adequately see the absolute essentiality of “organizing to implement.”

Good organization is precise. It involves lots of people, most of whom out of necessity will be volunteers, who are told precisely what they are being asked to do, precisely what it will require of them, precisely when it needs to be done, and who are precisely managed and held accountable by someone else.

The reason my friend’s program would never happen is that everyone who would read it would agree that it was a remarkable plan but none of them would do little more than compliment the writer for a job well done.

The problem was that the plan was woefully incomplete. It is like the elephant we want (maybe even are committed) to eat but have failed to take the first bite.

No one told us how!

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