Intentional + Adaptive Strategy = Social Impact

No longer is strategy a lengthy plan that is (possibly) skimmed and (undoubtedly) shelved. Rather, we see strategy as a framework of interconnected elements that supports an organization to achieve its intended impact. For a nonprofit organization, this is most often expressed as the resolution or transformation of a social, ecological, or cultural challenge - homelessness is eliminated, critical wildlife habitats are restored, or reconciliation is a nation-wide priority, for example. 

A well-conceived strategy requires consideration of the following elements:

  • the challenge the organization seeks to address and the impact it intends to have; 
  • the system(s) it operates within – and may be seeking to change;
  • the activities that it will engage in (both within and outside organizational boundaries) to achieve the intended impact;
  • the capabilities it requires to support the chosen approach (including how it will acquire and allocate resources); and
  • how it will learn and adapt the approach accordingly.

As the last point suggests, in addition to being intentional, strategy must also be adaptive. There must be space to experiment, learn and adjust course. Moreover, reality is constantly evolving and thus our organizations must maintain both direction and flexibility - a betwixt state appropriately termed "strategic opportunism". 

To facilitate the development of intentional and adaptive strategy in nonprofit organizations, Creating Value has created a framework (based on the elements above) and a strategy design process that we have been pilot testing. Although it's not pretty yet (we are working with our designer on it), we wanted to make this version available to nonprofit organizations who want to use it for the development of their own strategy. If you have any questions or comments about the framework that could help to improve it for other nonprofits, please don't hesitate to be in touch.