Thursday, April 16, 2009

Drucker on Nonprofits: Balance Decisions

"The Balance Decisions are what we need non-profit leaders for, whether they are paid or volunteer." - Peter Drucker

I have to admit, I have never been one to live what others would call a 'balanced' life.

I have always pushed my own envelope, taken a ton of risks (though they never really felt like risks), and been rash. That has led me around the world. It has led me to preach in a chicken coop in Kenya and been kidnapped in India. It has led me into working with multi-millionaires and being paid once for 2 years to study and educate myself.

The one thing I learned in all of that, though, is that I do not have to sacrifice opportunities like these were I to be a little more balanced.

And, working with non-profits (like I am with Community Partnership International,, I have realized a need to really take a look at how to bring in better balance.

Peter Drucker is quickly becoming the next great mind I plan on reading after. He points out in his work with non-profits several key "balance problems". Sadly, he does not offer much in the way of navigating the balance issue, but he certainly equips us better in that he makes us conscious of them.

Balance Problem:

Seeing the Big Picture vs. Being Involved with Detailed Operations
Possible Solution: Be involved in the details of your operation, but get a bigger picture by serving on other boards for oversight.

Concentrating Resources on One Goal vs. Diversification
Concentration gets maximum results but is risky in that you leave your "flank totally uncovered." Diversification stirs the imagination, but can lead to splintering.

Expecting Results Now vs. Long-term Planning
Its "easy" to deal with people who want results too soon. When you want your results this week, just say that you want them in two weeks. Drucker contends that those who err on Long-term planning are harder to counteract.

Opportunity vs. Risk
Is the decision reversible?
And what kind of risk is it?
Will it kill us?

Now, as you can see, Drucker does not really offer too many immediate solutions. BUT, just being aware is a step.

And, this has already added significantly to what we are focusing on for Community Partnership International and our work in Haiti, as well as over-arching ideals for managing in general.

Just one small example is how we will be building our ground-level team of unpaid staff members. I know for certain that I have a tendency to stay focused on Big Picture, Take Risks, and Diversify too much.

That simply means that I will need to draw to me at least some representation of people that love Details and Operations, Take time with evaluating Opportunities, and can properly Concentrate Resources.

If you haven't yet, check out our Facebook Cause and join the team. Consider how you can be a part of what we are doing. Another concept taken from Drucker that we have desired for quite some time is that we not only want donors; we want people who would like to contribute their unique giftings, skills, and networks.

So, if anything we are doing piques your interest, contact us!

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