7 Questions for Nonprofit Leaders Considering Strategic Restructuring


We have written before about the importance of nonprofit readiness as a precursor for success in strategic restructuring partnerships, including joint venture corporations or MSOs, parent-subsidiary relationships, and mergers or acquisitions. But nonprofit executives might also wish to consider their own readiness to lead their organizations through such a transformation. The following questions can help leaders predict and prepare for what will be demanded of them when embarking on a strategic restructuring effort.

1. Do you have a solid relationship with your board?

The board’s participation and buy-in are critical to any strategic restructuring effort. Having a relationship of mutual trust and good communication will sustain your efforts throughout the process.

2. What is your level of risk tolerance?

Relatively few nonprofits have engaged in strategic restructuring, and none that are exactly like your organization. You may be trying something that doesn’t have an existing model, making you the trailblazer.

3. Are you ready to make difficult choices?

Leadership is all about being able to make the tough call, but rarely more so than in a strategic restructuring process. Your intentions may be called into question by your partner organization or by your own staff and board, and you will need to be able to manage conflict.

4. Can you put your own ego aside and not take things personally?

The success of a strategic restructuring effort does not rest on one person’s shoulders alone. However, you play a pivotal role as a leader and may have strong feelings and reactions to the decisions being made. It is important that you be able to recognize your own emotions and keep them out of the way of the process.

5. Are you a good communicator?

The key to successful partnerships is communication. You will be looked to not only for your technical expertise and decision making, but for the soft skills you bring, such as the ability to communicate well with staff and other stakeholders.

6. Are you supported by a strong operations team who can assist in planning and execution?

The degree to which management or other key staff are involved in developing the partnership will vary, but when it comes to implementation these are the individuals you need on your team. Paying attention to this technical capacity is important for success.

7. Do you already feel overextended?

Strategic restructuring demands that you bring your “A game,” as a leader and as an organization. If you cannot devote the time, attention, and resources to providing the direction and hard work to support it, you may want to postpone until you can reprioritize your other work to make room.


Adapted with permission of the California Health Care Foundation, 2016. These questions were originally published in Testing the Waters: Five California Clinics Explore Strategic Restructuring, a summary of lessons from a two-year initiative supporting community health center grantees in pursuing formal partnerships.

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