Directors of Non Profit Organizations (NPOs) have many responsibilities, of which one of the most critical is setting the NPO's strategic direction in a way that serves the best interests of the multiple stakeholders (donors, volunteers, employees, clients/users) upon whom the organization depends for support. This is a considerable challenge that can be daunting for many boards of directors, but bestselling author and McMaster University professor Dr. Chris Bart has made it a simple and practical process.
In his new book, 20 Essential Questions Directors Of Non-Profit Organizations Should Ask About Strategy, Bart has created a straightforward monograph and workbook to help directors of NPO's better define, understand and execute their strategic responsibilities with management in easy-to-understand language. As testimony to the book's value and acceptance, it was named the #5 Best Selling Business Book in Canada for 2012.
One very noteworthy question that Bart poses is how an NPO actually defines the term "strategy". Bart writes that this frequently overlooked question is vital due to the existence of many different definitions of "strategy" used by members of the board and its management. These differences have an obvious and potentially negative impact on the organization's performance long term. He then goes on to provide a simple, yet effective strategy definition framework that can be applied to any organization at the outset to avoid future performance shortfalls.
Another important question concerns "implementation", or how the organization has selected, designed, and aligned its internal arrangements to support the strategy. Bart writes, "Given sufficient time, information and human intelligence, any organization is capable of designing an outstanding strategy. The tough part occurs when it comes to executing it-i.e., turning the strategy into a reality." Bart cites numerous tactics for implementation, including: the proper management of information systems to monitor the strategy's progress; recruitment of appropriate employees and volunteers who can execute their share of the strategy; and ensuring that every member of the organization, from the field to the boardroom, understands and shares the same strategic vision.