In This Environment, We All Need to Adapt

“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

– Arundhati Roy

It may be a truism that the only constant is change, but that makes constant change no less a reality for the social sector and no less a challenge for the nonprofit leader to navigate. Five-year plans and even three-year plans are proving less and less useful in a highly dynamic environment where community needs, national politics, the economy, funder interests, and a plethora of social movements are all constantly evolving, often in unpredictable ways.

Our Real-Time Strategic Planning methodology, described in our book The Nonprofit Strategy Revolution, offers emergent strategy as an alternative to old-fashioned, static, goals-and-objectives plans but we are the first to admit that good strategy alone won’t ensure your success. We’ve been noodling on the problem (as is our way) and have come up with a new resource to bridge the gap from strategy to success. We call it, quite simply, Adapt. It is based on the simple notion, portrayed graphically below, that finding the right answer to your challenges is a necessary but not sufficient condition for success. Once a sound strategy is adopted, it must be well executed, but even that doesn’t ensure success. Strategic success is directly related to the flexibility and creativity of your team. To stay relevant and always ready to deliver on your mission, your organization needs to be willing to handle the difficulty and uncertainty that come along with change. This will help ensure exciting opportunities and innovations don’t pass you by. In short, you need a culture of adaptability to succeed in constantly changing circumstances. That’s an Adaptive Culture.

Check our Adapt Change Primer for thoughts on how to move your team in the right direction, toward adaptation.

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