Personal Development Creating your own strategic positioning by rvq11830


									The Leading Business Publication For Nonprofit Management                          SEPTEMBER 1, 2005


Personal Development
Creating your own strategic positioning
    Now that a marathon           or downright failing it is an    markets for its services does     there be a contraction of
Saturday session is over and      open secret, and the best        the organization want to be       the work force? Will the skill
your organization’s strategy      people start moving out of       in? How do those markets          level and socio-economics
is set, it’s time for you to      the organization.                differ from where the organi-     of your future co-workers
develop your own parallel            Where is your group           zation is now? What are the       change appreciably? Where
personal strategic position.      headed? More importantly,        demographics and related          will the new people be com-
    One of the least appre-       how can you best position        trends in those markets? Is       ing from? Will they create a
ciated aspects of strategy        yourself to take advantage of    demand growing, contract-         more competitive environ-
development is that indi-         the opportunities created by     ing, or staying the same?         ment, or simply add to an
viduals, especially managers      the new strategy?                                                  existing base? Co-workers
and executives, need to be           The answer is to follow       Users of the services             are enormously powerful in
aligned to the strategy just      the personal equivalent of          Within those markets, who      changing an organization’s
as much as the structure and      the organizational strategy-     are the projected users of the    culture, which is a big fac-
other major processes of          setting process, called stra-    services, and how are they        tor in most people’s comfort
their organization do. A little   tegic positioning: examine       the same or different from        level. Can you intuit where
proactive thinking on every-      your environment (in this        the ones currently being          tomorrow’s workers will
one’s part about how they         case, the organization); take    served? If your theater plans     come from and what cul-
can fit into the new strategy     an inventory of your person-     to supplement its symphony        tural values they’ll bring?
will help both parties.           al strengths; decide where       series with country and west-
    It is generally accepted      you want to be relative to       ern acts, the future overall      Personal assets
that nonprofit organizations      the organization over the        portrait of attendees will look       What type of personal
have life cycles. Less well       next several years; then cre-    very different from the way it    assets -- education, skills, and
recognized is how those life      ate a personal development       looks now, which could have       knowledge -- will the organi-
cycles affect the people in       plan that will get you there.    implications for you.             zation need to carry out the
the organization. Because         Here are each of these steps                                       strategy? How will this differ,
the nonprofit must do differ-
                                                                   Geography                         if at all, from what it currently
                                  in order.
ent things during different                                           All nonprofits are geo-        needs? Pay particular attention
cycles, it will demand differ-    Scan your environment            graphically-oriented. Will        to the future skills that the
ent things of the people who         As an insider, your per-      your organization’s geograph-     strategy will require.Technical
manage it and work in it.         sonal environment is the         ic spread be changing? Will       skills often go in and out of
    To put it more concretely,    organization. What the orga-     sites be added or subtracted,     demand, whereas generic
if you want to get an idea        nization will look like in       or will it remain unchanged?      abilities like people skills or
of where an organization is       five to 10 years, what it will   Within that geography, what       communication skills tend to
headed, watch where its best      emphasize and what it is         are the expected trends?          be steadily in demand.
people go. When a part of         trying to become will have       New geography brings new
the organization is growing       a lot to say about your pro-     opportunities.                    Inventory your personal
or innovating, those on the       fessional development.There                                        strengths
                                                                   Co-workers                           Next, critically examine
inside know it and it is usu-     are a handful of variables
ally in everyone’s interests      that will largely determine         Co-workers often make          your existing strengths against
for them to make a shift.         your happiness and success       a pivotal difference in a         the same categories listed
The resources and manage-         as a professional. Examine       nonprofit job. How will your      above. Look honestly for your
ment attention directed to        them closely.                    co-workers be changing? Will      strengths, because that’s what
that part tend to act like a                                       there be additional numbers       you’ll build your personal stra-
magnet for talent. Similarly,
                                  Demand for services              of employees, more turn-          tegic position on.
when a nonprofit is drifting        What general market or         over, less turnover? Might            For market-related ques-

                 Reprinted with permission of THE NONPROFIT TIMES September 1, 2005, Vol. 19, No. 17
  For subscription information, please visit For subscription information, please visit

tions, consider the implica-     organization is expected to       the desired geography, and        is formal or informal, on site
tions for you of any new         make a deposit in the knowl-      your anticipated co-workers.      or online.
markets. Ask yourself wheth-     edge and skill bank. What is      These are all factors that will       On the other hand, if you
er you will be comfortable       the nature of your current        facilitate your happiness and     don’t like where you see the
serving a new market, or         contribution? What things         success.                          organization being in five
giving up an old one if that’s   are you good at? What con-           They are also the least        years, then you have already
the case. Do the same for        tributions of yours do oth-       controllable, from an indi-       made the preliminary deci-
future users of the services.    ers seem to value most? The       vidual’s perspective. What        sion to leave. That’s okay for
You may not like country         most critical and manage-         is quite controllable is the      now. You still have plenty of
and western music, but do        able part of adapting to your     store of personal assets you      time, and things can always
you like its fans?               organization’s future strate-     bring. The benefit to you of      change. If not, at least you
   Geography might be out        gic position is your unique       a well-crafted organization       have established where you
of your control, but at least    stock of professional assets.     strategy is that the handwrit-    want to be and it will be
understand what it means         These are your strengths,         ing is already on the wall, so    easier to recognize an orga-
for you personally. Typically,   and it is what you’ll build       you know what to plan for,        nization that will help you
people in higher paid and/       on for much of your future        and you have some time.           achieve that.
or professional positions        personal strategy.                   This is also a good time           Organizations have strate-
tend to have a broader range        Considering all of the         to launch your personal           gies, so should their people.
of acceptable geography,         above, decide where you           development plan by adding        Peer into the future, assess
whereas other positions          want to be in five years. This    some skills that will grow        your strengths, decide where
tend to be filled by people      is essentially a process of       more valuable as the larg-        you want to be, then launch
from a narrower geographic       recognizing and deciding to       er strategy is implemented.       your personal development
range. Is the future geogra-     accept the implicit incen-        Depending on your role,           plan. NPT
phy going with you, against      tives laid out in the strategy.   these skills could be cultivat-   Thomas A. McLaughlin
you, or unchanged?               If the changes you project        ed in areas like new groups       is a national nonprofit
   As with users of your         in your environment come          of users or changing pro-         management consultant
organization’s      services,    true, do you expect to stay       gram models for the new           with Grant Thornton in
your future co-workers are       put? If so, it’s time to decide   demand for services.              Boston. He is the author of
not a controllable variable.     what your personal strategic         Happily, in five years you     Streetsmart Financial Basics
Assessing where your co-         position in the organization      will also be more experi-         for Nonprofit Managers and
workers are currently strong     will look like.                   enced and more knowledge-         the forthcoming book The
will help you better under-         One by one, decide where       able. So, if nothing else, make   Art of Strategic Positioning:
stand what the organiza-         you want to be with respect       sure the experience comes in      Decide Where to Be, Plan
tion is going to require in      to each of the first four vari-   the direction toward which        What to Do (John Wiley
the future to build on those     ables -- the projected demand     your organization is moving.      and Sons, late 2005). His
strengths.                       for the organization’s ser-       Education is the obvious way      email address is thomas.
   Finally, everyone in an       vices, the expected users,        of achieving this, whether it

                 Reprinted with permission of THE NONPROFIT TIMES September 1, 2005, Vol. 19, No. 17
  For subscription information, please visit For subscription information, please visit

To top