Friday 10 August 2007

How do we do well at doing good?

Great session with Professor Michael Porter of Harvard Business School. His background is n the auto industry, and he's one of the world's leading experts on strategy and competitiveness. He's also worked on urban poverty projects and healthcare.

Michael drew our attention to some classic misunderstandings churches have about strategy:
  1. Strategy is not Aspiration
    e.g. "serve 1000 families" — but how?

  2. Strategy is not Action
    "build new building," — an action that might be part of a strategy, but not a strategy that says why and how?

  3. Strategy is not a Vision or mission statement —
    "serve our community" — just good intentions/ waffle
He showed us some classic blocks to strategic thinking in non-profits
  1. Multiple, Conflicting, or unclear Goals
  2. Services driven by donors or staff passions and preferences, not value or effectiveness
  3. No attempt to measure performance
  4. Little attention to costs, so that value becomes unmeasurable
  5. Inability to make tradeoffs; trying to be all things to all people, or do it all ourselves
  6. Inability to sunset a program, leading to program proliferation — why can't we give dead programs a decent Christian funeral?
We've got some great intentions. So if we want to get real about community service, what is this saying to us, and how can we apply it?

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