1. Decide To Do It. Almost every viable nonprofit organization holds a vision of a world-class program they would like to create. Few follow through to create it. Your first step is your firm decision to create one.
2. Select A Focus. Every organization has an “A” or program at least a nearly A program. Other programs are at best a “B” or “C.” World-class programs result from a focus on your “A’s.” While we have several tools to help you discern which of your programs have the most potential, most nonprofit leaders can identify a short list.
3. Analyze Your Starting Point. To complete a successful journey you must understand your starting point. In this step, analyze the specifics that create your current excellence so you can build on them.
4. Add Research. Check out the experts in your field. Where have there been breakthroughs? What are the most critical elements of achieving success for your customers? For example, the big breakthrough for SIDS came with teaching parents to place their infants on their backs to sleep. If you develop a world-class program for infants, you will build on this and other new knowledge.
5. Study Others. Examine what is being done in other places. Review what works. Identify successful options others pioneered. Don’t copy the fabulous program from another organization, instead study it and consider ways to emulate the key parts and incorporate them into your world-class program.
6. Refine Your Destination. From all of the possibilities, you identified with the first steps, narrow down your options. Select the ones with the best fit in terms of your talents, gifts and time. Decide from of the options where exactly will you go. Hawaii is a dream; a ticket to Maui this Friday morning epitomizes a refined destination.
7. Find Money. Consider your range of funding opportunities. By all means, pinpoint how you will obtain start-up funds, but more important, invest treble this effort to establish sustainability.
8. Create A Community. While it is possible, why would you want to achieve a world-class program alone? Why not use other strengths to help contribute to your goals? Your reach for world-class also holds the potential to bring others with you and uplift the whole community. By developing collaborative partnerships, you will extend your world-class programs and, in turn, offer your customers more high-quality opportunities.
9. Plan the Journey. Of these three key steps: 1.) Knowing where you are, 2.) Knowing where you want to go and 3.) Knowing how to get there, the easy steps are the first two. To complete the most challenging step, how to get there, plan a logical, realistic progression of actions for your organization to move you from here to there.
10. Stay With It. In Georgetown Harbor, Bahamas (a.k.a. Chicken Harbor) every winter there are 500 sailboats, 400 leave the east coast of Florida with plans to circumnavigate the Caribbean. Only twenty actually leave Georgetown to sail south for the first really difficult passage of the journey. Begin and never quit.