On the Nonprofit Sector

The Vision of Great Leaders

Posted March 18, 2013 3:17 PM by Brandon Kline

All great leaders have a vision.

  • Martin Luther King saw a world of equality regardless of your race, color, or creed
  • Steve jobs had a vision to put a computer in the hands of EVERYONE
  • The Founding Fathers had a vision for a new nation
  • Even Bob Dylan had visions of Johanna

Okay, I may have gotten a little carried away with that last one, but the fact of the matter remains - all great leaders have a vision, and that vision becomes the driving force behind all their work.

Eduardo Carrera also has a vision. He sees the Boys and Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico (BGCPR) positively affecting the lives of every boy and girl in Puerto Rico. This is a vision that is shared from the president of the organization all the way down to the front line employees and volunteers.

By relentlessly preaching that vision, they have cultivated the motivation and buy-in that has helped the organization grow to 11 clubs serving over 11,000 young people annually. However, this growth and forward progress wasn’t always the norm. In previous years, they struggled just to stay afloat and remain relevant in the lives of the Puerto Rican kids. He compared this stagnation to being in a room and having the windows open while it was raining. The water just kept pouring in while they did everything possible with the buckets they had to throw it back out. SEE THEIR VIDEO HERE.

For so long, they could only see in the short-term and by operating under this approach, they were only able to scoop enough water out of the room to keep from drowning. They needed a new direction. A purpose. A vision. A reason for being that was inspiring and so large that it could only be long-term.

Their leader made this new vision very clear to all employees, volunteers, and even the kids. They were going to reach ALL of the roughly 1 million kids on the island. It was this vision that has helped them continue to grow, continue to stretch themselves, and continue to save the lives of Puerto Rican boys and girls. Whew - now that is a vision.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that a vision isn’t just what you are trying to accomplish in the next one, two, or even three years. It’s much greater than that. Take another look at the people at the top of this post (minus Bob Dylan of course). Do you think any of them thought their vision would be accomplished in the next few years? Or even in their lifetime? I doubt it.

I challenge each and every one of you in the mission-driven sector to reflect for a minute or two. What is your vision? Does it inspire you? Does it inspire others? Are you surrounding yourself with people as committed as you are?

As you reflect on those questions, I leave you with a parting quote from Eduardo’s Presentation at MDMS 2013.

“The only thing worse than being blind, is having sight and no vision.”

Using the Balanced Scorecard in Nonprofit Organizations: Plan, People, and Process

Posted October 3, 2012 10:34 AM by Angie Mareino

Today's guest post comes from Evan Stisser, a MBA candidate at Cass Business School in London. Evan, who is working on his Master's thesis regarding Balanced Scorecard (BSC) implementation in nonprofit organizations, spoke with Ascendant's Managing Partner Dylan Miyake about Ascendant's nonprofit work and BSC best practices. Here's Evan:

more »

Developing Your BSC – Perfect Can Be the Enemy of Good Enough

Posted July 20, 2012 3:19 PM by Mark Cutler

One of the interesting aspects of working with nonprofit and educational organizations is the very intellectual, consensual, and deliberate manner in which they do everything they do. This is a critical part of their cultural, which makes them successful in carrying out their day-to-day work and achieving their missions.

However, when it becomes necessary to change the way they do things, we consultants can view these characteristics--of needing to achieve absolute consensus and leaving no stone unturned before moving forward--as a bit of a drawback, causing inertia. This is often true especially when it comes to starting up a Balanced Scorecard at one of these organizations.

more »

Happy 20th Birthday Balanced Scorecard

Posted June 25, 2012 9:17 AM by Dylan Miyake

Twenty years ago, in 1992, Harvard Business Review published "Balanced Scorecard -- the Measures That Drive Performance." Seemingly obvious now, the article argued that companies need to measure more than just financial and operational measures to succeed. By looking at a "balanced scorecard" of financial, customer, process, and people measures, organization could more accurately understand the drivers of performance.

more »

Mission-Driven Management Summit 2013 Call For Speakers

Posted June 4, 2012 5:07 PM by Dylan Miyake

It's hard to believe, but we're already planning for the 2013 Mission-Driven Management Summit, just a short nine months away! We're returning to the fabulous National Press Club in Washington, DC on March 5-6, 2013. With that in mind, we're putting out a general "call for speakers" to present at next year's conference.

more »

The Creativity Conundrum In Educational Leadership

Posted May 2, 2012 5:23 PM by Ted Jackson

This is a guest blog from Roslyn Tam. The original can be found at www.educationalleadership.com.

Many of the men and women who shaped the world over the course of history, from Mozart to Albert Einstein to Steve Jobs, have done so by thinking well outside the sphere of traditional education. Famously, each of these men had some issues with authority, and it's hard to imagine any of them sitting placidly in a classroom and copying facts and figures from a chalkboard. In the end, their genius was not simply in their ability to understand complex systems, although that was certainly an important part of it. What set them apart was their creativity--that is, their ability to use previously held knowledge to produce something that no one had ever thought to make before; whether a symphony, a scientific theory or a personal computer.

more »

MDMS 2012 - Quotes, Ideas, and Themes

Posted March 12, 2012 9:07 PM by Brandon Kline

Thank you to all the attendees of this year's Mission-Driven Management Summit! The event, held March 6-8th at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, brought together speakers and organizations from around the world to hear case studies and participate in interactive sessions designed to help make the connection between strategy and execution, as well as reach peak performance within an organization.

more »

Inspiring work with nonprofits

Posted March 12, 2012 2:50 PM by Ted Jackson

When we started Ascendant more than 4 years ago, we imagined "taking our talents" to the mission-driven sector. The concept was simple. We had been helping organizations execute their strategy for more than 10 years and they were creating great results...or returns for their shareholders. With Ascendant, we wanted to do the same with mission-driven organizations, or nonprofits. We just held our fourth Annual Summit, and it confirmed that we are doing the right thing.

more »

Holiday Greetings

Posted December 21, 2011 5:21 PM by Dylan Miyake

As the year winds down and we get ready to celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, I wanted to take a moment to stop and thank the people who we've been fortunate to work with over the past year. The work that our clients do on a daily basis is both incredible and inspirational, and we're incredibly fortunate to play a small role in helping them advance their mission.

more »

The Nonprofit Strategy Map

Posted November 10, 2011 10:30 AM by Ted Jackson

Given that we work in the mission-driven sector (governments, education, associations, and nonprofits), I receive a lot of questions about the Balanced Scorecard in this area. How can a for-profit concept apply in the nonprofit space? Does the Balanced Scorecard support nonprofits? Isn't this a management framework that puts financials at the top of the strategy map? Little do people know that even in the 1996 book on the Balanced Scorecard by Drs. Norton and Kaplan, there is a section on nonprofit organizations.

Of course, nonprofits need to modify the strategy map to meet their needs, just like government agencies do. Neither of these organizations is in business to make money, so the financial perspective cannot be at the top of the strategy map.

more »

more entries »