Janet, my first roommate at college was a senior finishing up her final semester. For her, every day was about endings. In stark contrast, I was the enthused newbie starting everything. We started congenially, but our friendship’s veneer grew thin as the semester unfolded.
Like Janet and my senior-freshman struggle, conflicts are inherent in nonprofit organizations. Except these conflicts aren’t over in a semester. They’re eternal.
In what way are goal conflicts baked into the system? Nonprofits seek three bottom line: mission, community, and money, unlike governments and businesses that seek a single bottom link, (votes and profit, respectively.) Seeking three results at the same time leads to challenges.
Since goal conflicts come with the territory, to succeed you need skills to manage them. What happens if you lack or don’t use these skills? Stagnation. Lost revenue. Bottom-line conflicts lie at the epicenter of nearly all stuck income growth efforts.
In my Trusted Advisor Program, I find that by helping CEOs to name conflicts, they make tremendous progress on challenges that previously stumped them. Why? Named conflicts lose their mystery. They gain portability. Portability allows you to mentally move problems from their current context, or reframe them, and play with solutions.
By classifying conflicts, CEOs help their organizations to stop cross-purpose efforts. Names help people to discuss fears, to identify risks, and to explore ways to reduce them. Reframing allows you to ask this interesting question: how can we can we move toward all three bottom-lines simultaneously here?
In the chart below, I name the three expensive and common conflicts, provide an example, and an offer a reframing question.
|Mission and Money vs. Community||A donor gives $2,000,000; success securing other donations sharply decrease.||How might you use the donor’s gift to grow your community?|
|Money and Community vs. Mission||Your full event calendar leaves everyone with minimal energy for improving mission results.||Which events can you tweak, so they offer opportunities to grow your mission and the community and revenue?|
|Mission and Community vs. Money||Almost all your efforts go toward your mission. This results in constant revenue shortages.||How can you re-think how you do your mission today to enhance your revenue streams tomorrow?|
Identify your slow or stalled income growth efforts. What role do bottom-line conflicts play? Name the conflict or conflicts. As you do, watch for shifts in your thinking. Jot me a note and let me know what you discover.
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