Case Stories

Finding the Future in the Past

Blue string wrapped around nails on a design board

This story is true, but names and details have been changed to protect anonymity.

Few not-for-profit organizations had made as significant an impact over the past several decades as the one in whose hallowed halls we sat. But time marches on and things change. This was an inflection point.

There had been significant turnover, and a new CEO had begun taking necessary steps to ensure the organization would be as relevant for the next generation as it had been for the last. But as things started to evolve, it was vital for all involved – from staffers (new and old), to core constituents, to donors, to other influential outsiders – to understand and endorse this new direction.

There was just one problem. The people from each of those groups we had spoken to were all over the board in terms of their perceptions regarding what was happening. Some were confused. Many were questioning. All were concerned. Worse, the Disruption Cycle survey we had fielded among the management team showed a lack of focus, a loss of nerve, and a problematic absence of alignment.

Where to begin? Putting first things first by getting back to the core, which is often where we find ourselves. The mission wasn’t broken, only the model needed modification. Connecting those dots would enable people to see who they were again. And that was the key.

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