Monthly Archives: January 2017

Car in Mud

Is Your Nonprofit Growth Stuck In the Mud?

Once again, I am seeing nonprofits that are not growing and moving toward their vision. They are busy. Very busy, in fact. But they are going nowhere.

The reason: the Executive Director keeps him- or herself busy with minutia. Then they claim that they are too busy to do the important tasks. They claim they are overworked.

For example, I recently met an ED who has a major event scheduled for 11 weeks from now. He is expecting nearly 4,000 people. He has not nailed down the venue. He has not signed a single speaker. He has not built an agenda.

Why? “I’m too busy. There is too much going on. I am exhausted.”

He won’t even look for volunteers to take over tasks. When he does get one, he micromanages them until they leave, which usually does not take long.

His organization has had over thirty potential paths to achieve their important vision. They are currently executing only three. And when he retires or dies (probably at the same time) the organization will dissolve, with its mission unfulfilled.

What should he be doing?

He should be finding volunteers to take over the management of various events. Complete management. There are lots of people in this town who can and would do that.

If he is fortunate, he can hand it over with a minimum of instruction. If a little less fortunate, he can let that person shadow him through the process and give him the aegis next year. But, his major job should be finding and freeing volunteers to handle each activity, even if it takes more hours to recruit them and bring them up to speed than he now spends on managing on a recurring basis.

He has turned over the management of one of the paths to a retired executive. That path appears to be working well. It seems to be in the S4 area.

See my prior posts on Delegate or Die and How to Delegate.

Negotiate or Flight-or-Flight II – Emotional Traps

Last week, I described a framework for making a decision to either negotiate or to flight-or-fight. This framework was developed by Robert Mnookin and detailed in his book, Bargaining with the Devil. His framework is meant to be used totally rationally, without recourse to emotion or intuition. But that is silly. Recent research has proven that nearly all decisions are made emotionally, then justified using logic and reason. Continue reading Negotiate or Flight-or-Flight II – Emotional Traps

Negotiate or Fight-or-Flight I

It has been observed that one of the differences between the “street-wise” and the rest of us is that we often negotiate our way out of difficult circumstances while the street-wise rarely negotiate and will choose to either fight or flee.

Robert Mnookin has written a book, Bargaining with the Devil, that gives a formal framework for the negotiate or else decision. He is the chair of the Program on Negotiations at the Harvard Law School, so he is a pretty good source.

His basic framework is that you need to dispassionately (emotions always get in the way of logic) think about five points:

  1. What are my interests and what are my adversaries interests?
  2. What are my alternatives to negotiation and what are my adversaries alternatives? [Understand your, and his, BATNA’s.]
  3. Is there a potential deal that is better than the BATNA for each of us?
  4. What will it cost me to negotiate? Not all costs are in dollars. Time, emotion, reputation, and self-image are also factors.
  5. If we reach a deal, is there a reasonable prospect that it will be carried out? You can always put penalties for nonperformance from third parties in the deal.
Think about these before you make a fight or flight decision.