New Years Resolution – Make better decisions for our missions
Amusing of course, but thankfully we have so much more to look forward to in 2012 than yet one more predicted armageddon. How many have their been in the last ten years or so?
This year promises to be the beginning of a watershed in technology for nonprofits. Integrations and efficiencies begun in the for-profit world are truly finding their footing in our space. This is the year that we will see social technologies and enterprise-ready solutions make large contributions and be successful for all types and sizes of organizations.
New investments and business models are coming online now that promise to help our sector eliminate many of our old inefficiencies and bad habits making the business of running our missions better servants of the donor dollar.
It’s an exciting time to be around nonprofit sector-focused technology.
What will the future fundraising office look like? How will the future nonprofit deliver its services? The future is here now and ready to go for connected technology solutions in our space. How do we make the right decisions for our organization when technology is getting better, but also more and more complex?
David Brooks, author of The Social Animal, writes in book “that the vast majority of us have very little understanding of why we make the choices we do, and that we’re influenced instead by peer pressure; impulsive and reactive emotions; …; overconfidence in the present; excessive worry about the future; the evolutionary instinct to avoid pain and move towards pleasure; and precious little capacity to delay gratification.” (http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2011/07/we-dont-know-what-we-dont-know.html)
A bit of depressing essay on the human spirit, but definitely true when it comes to how so many of us make decisions about technology solutions that can seem so daunting to work through as to what is best for our missions. Thankfully, later in the book, Brooks calls for a balanced life that contrasts equally “action with introspection, confidence with restraint.”(http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2011/07/we-dont-know-what-we-dont-know.html)
The part of the downer sentence that catches me, however, is our “overconfidence in the present; excessive worry about the future”.
Let’s explore each of these:
1) Overconfidence in the present -
Many of us work in this field because we believe the present, in some way or another, has a need that must be fixed. Our missions are written to state what problem here in the present we are attempting to solve. By our very nature of working in this sector we are people who believe we can make the today better by our work. We must take that same belief in our ability to solve problems and translate it to the pieces of technology that enable the mission to occur and manage itself to better effect.
2) Excessive worry about the future -
Over and over again I hear organizations worry about their future. It’s natural. What isn’t natural is “excessive” worrying. The excessive piece of the equation is what causes paralysis in the present. That paralysis and worry is a prime reason for organizations holding off on decisions that could significantly support their organizations ability to perform their mission. In my sales career I’ve had people in management positions at organizations tell me they wish the decision about a CRM/Accounting System/In-take system/etc be done after they retired because of the dread they had in making that decision. We have to let go of that fear in 2012 and recognize that the paralysis and worry that create fear are truly detrimental to the missions we serve.
The positive side to those two tough axioms of human nature is that once we recognize these as issues there are really only internal cultural changes to be made and your organization can move on to utilizing a framework for positive decision-making very easily. I’ve seen it happen many times and this is the year your organization can do it too.
The concept of Return on Mission is one of the building blocks of a solid, mission-based technology decision-making process. It is the equation that helps your organization understand how each piece of technology can be a solution to support your mission with a return on investment that maximizes social impact.
Yes it’s going to be a year of rapid change with many critical choices needing to be made that will impact your organization in 2012 and beyond. By utilizing a decision-making process that focuses on Return on Mission, as laid out in my book The Nonprofit Buyer, you can be assured that your organization can live by its new years resolutions.