|The new Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore. Groudbreaking is May 2.|
Monday, April 24, 2017
When I encourage people to create an aspirational vision of what they would want their organization to look like if they could have it any way they wanted it – it is often hard to get them to “think big” or “think outside of the box.”
To help people think big, I sometimes say “Imagine you just received an unrestricted gift of $100 billion. The donor said to do anything with it you want. What would you do with it?”
Wow – with that kind of money you could do some incredible things. I encourage you to use that question with your staff or Board one of these days to help them dream big.
A few years ago, I was privileged to facilitate strategic planning for Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore. At first, the Board was thinking about a strategy for raising money to fix up the current house. But when I asked them what they really wanted – if they could have anything – they said “New House!”
Even though they did not have property for a new house or the money, they dreamed and dreamed big – HUGE actually. You can read this earlier blog (“Ritz & Disney at Grandma’s House”) about how they dreamed.
Next week, Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore is going to break ground for their new house! You can read more about it here. They got the property and raised money – not $5 million, not $10 million or $20 million. They have raised $27.5 million and are closing in on their goal of $30 million. It is going to be an amazing place for children and families.
If I would have told the Board – in our first meeting a few years back – that they would figure out to a way to raise $30 million for this effort, I think they may have laughed me out of the room or fired me on the spot.
But this just goes to show the power of vision, aspiration, and commitment to it all. Way to go RMH of Baltimore!!! You are making an amazing Mission Impact of the lives of kids and families.
Posted by Dr. Rob Sheehan at 9:10 AM
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
When I talk with people about setting BIG Almost Impossible Goals, I will sometimes hear “Oh yeah, just like ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goals’ in that book (Built to Last) by Jim Collins & Jerry Porras! BHAGs!”
To which I say “Sort of.”
The “Hairy” in BHAGs is “scary” – like taking a big risk. Hairy, scary goals might be appropriate sometimes – but research shows that they are not effective if an organization is desperate. If you are thinking “We need to turn things around, let’s go for it and bet our future on this new idea. Failure is not an option!” Then, according to research reported in the Jan-Feb 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review by Sitkin, Miller, & See (The Stretch Goal Paradox), this may not be a good idea.
This is because success rates with a “stretch” goal are improved if an organization has a winning attitude (recent successes). Desperate organizations usually do not fit this mold.
Interestingly, though, a lot of successful organizations don’t even try Almost Impossible Goals because they have gotten too used to “winning.” The idea of taking a risk and having a possible failure is too much for them. Hence, the “Paradox” in the title of the HBR article.
I have found that it is helpful if organizations can think of these Almost Impossible Goals as “Happy,” not “Hairy.” I encourage people NOT to set these big goals unless they are actually willing to fail at them. Of course you don’t want to fail. But once you can accept that failure at a wonderfully big goal is not so terrible, it gives you the freedom to really play with ideas and get creative. You can be in a “happy place” and really go for it without looking back.
If scary, hairy goals work for you, then great. But I prefer the more fun approach of Big Happy Audacious Goals (see here to learn more). Even if you don’t make it, you can be happy and proud that you pursued something you really care about to make a Mission Impact.
For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost. You can also check out my book, Mission Impact: Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested. And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.
Posted by Dr. Rob Sheehan at 2:37 PM