Thought Leadership

Business Strategy for Nonprofits—A Primer


The ability to craft effective business strategies is essential for nonprofit organizations being able to respond to rapidly changing conditions and deliver on their mission. The excerpt below from an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review (a must-read for nonprofit leaders) addresses a key element of what is needed: strategic thinking. And to take this one step further, we need to develop cultures of strategic thinkers—teams working together to constantly create, innovate and test strategies for growth.

“We think that what is necessary today is a strategy that breaks free of static plans to be adaptive and directive, that emphasizes learning and control, and that reclaims the value of strategic thinking for the world that now surrounds us.”

The Strategic Plan is Dead. Long Live Strategy—Stanford Social Innovation Review

Are There Blind Spots That Doom Post-Merger Integration?

Are there blind spots that doom post merger integration? Yes. Business owners, after years of hard work, facing a payday, can be blissfully blind to cultural and leadership land mines. Triggered in the fog of post-merger integration, they cost organizations dearly, in terms of talent loss, workflow capability, and strategic alignment. I saw this blind spot six months ago in my local Starbucks ...
There I ran into a business acquaintance of mine (call him John). John is the CEO of a successful healthcare consultancy that has grown into a national player in the corporate health arena. I learned that John was out of the office studying an offer for the purchase of his firm by a large European conglomerate. The calculator was out and there was a look in his eye that said, “Leave me alone. I have been waiting my whole life for this moment." Nonetheless, I pushed into the conversation. I was puzzled because John had spent twelve years building a dream team to leverage his successful business model, vowing he would never sell...

The Corporate Athlete - “Going Out of Bounds!”

The Corporate Athlete

The corporate athlete is willing to be uncomfortable and risk playing out outside of their own boundaries.

I believe great business leaders and great athletes have a lot in common! The playing fields or competitive settings may differ, but the qualities of both competitors are very much the same!

So, what does it take to become a corporate athlete and business champion? The solution is so basic and so simple and yet is overlooked by most way too often.

Success in and out of business and sports is directly related to how willing you are to venture outside of your own boundaries and comfort zone. It's not the natural talent or the business experiences you had, it is not the physical gifts or the advance degrees that separate the best from all the rest...

Mindset-A Game Changer

Mindset-CreativityFor anyone engaged in organizational development or executive coaching work, the importance of leadership mindset is a given. Often the first step in helping a leader or team move beyond current limitations and fixed ways of seeing and acting is addressing ineffective mindsets head-on. In our work at Growth River, “Effective Mindset” is one of the core conditions we focus on with teams to create the conditions for success (How Leadership Teams Successfully Create Aligned Business Strategy).

My appreciation for just how important mindset is deepened as the result of my recent experience facilitating a 2-day alignment workshop with a nonprofit leadership team...

What Do Arranged Marriages And Post-Merger Integration Have In Common?

Post-merger integration

What do arranged marriages and their analogue in the business world, post-merger Integration, have in common? The answer: long termed success starts with getting the match right in the first place.

Here’s a telling statistic. According to UNICEF and Human Rights Council, the average divorce rate globally in the case of arranged marriages is 4%. In India, where 90% of marriages are arranged, the divorce rate is 1.1%!

Contrast Post-Merger Integration. According to McKinsey and Co., nearly 80% fail to recover the costs incurred in the deal, and fully half of deals result in reduced profits, reduced productivity or both. Add to this years of fear and instability on the part of employees and their local communities, and … you get the picture...

The Mindset HR Leaders Need To Excel as Strategic Co-Pilots


HR leaders love and need their development tools to make the difference that is expected of them. They often include psychometric assessments, 360 evaluations to performance management processes and more. But the most important tool HR leaders need is having the right mindset to excel.

Every human resource leader I have ever had the privilege of working with had their eye on one question:

How can I best build a high performing culture? A culture in which our people possess the right skills, capabilities and level of engagement that unleashes our organization’s highest potential to create and sustain profitable growth?”

However to really accomplish this, the central challenge for most HR leaders is this:

To get a seat at the leadership table, and to continuously be a critical strategic partner and co-pilot to business leaders and the leadership teams throughout the enterprise...

Accountability Without Authority Spells Failure

authority empower

Accountability without authority is a pervasive pathology in organizations. Holding someone accountable for playing a role without giving them the authority to succeed in the role is a recipe for failure. If undiagnosed, the impacts on a team culture are insidious and unhealthy. These effects can become a very real obstacle to developing a high-performance team that consistently delivers on desired goals and outcomes.

Several years ago I took on the role of CEO at a small nonprofit (see Authoring Your Own Success Story). At that time, we recognized that we needed to transition from being a top-down, directive leadership organization, as it was no longer working. The organization was growing and developing new programs and services, so we needed to create a more complete system-of-roles to manage this increase in complexity. Concentrating too much authority and responsibility in the hands of one directive leader wasn’t working...