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5 Common Mistakes when NGOs start strategizing

October 21, 2020
I’ve been having similar conversations in several places over the last couple of weeks, which usually triggers a post. People send me a draft strategy document and say ‘what do you think?’ I take a deep breath and launch in. Half an hour later they look a bit shell-shocked, but (these are NGOs after all), always say what a useful

What are the Simple Rules that guide our Strategies?

November 21, 2019
Thanks Paul Knox-Clarke for sending me ‘Strategy as Simple Rules’, a 2001 Harvard Business Review article that helps clarify some fairly fuzzy stuff I’ve been writing here and elsewhere on ‘strategic rules of thumb’. The basic idea is that when strategizing, large organizations spend too much time discussing the ‘what’ (climate change? Gender? Education? Livelihoods?), and too little on the
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No Pain, No Gain in strategic planning: An open letter to my organization in 2040

September 20, 2019
Warren Krafchik, Executive Director of the International Budget Partnership got in touch to say he’d like to chip in on the discussion on strategic planning, kicked off recently by Mark Goldring. So, you’re thinking of embarking on a strategic planning process. A little over 20 years ago, I had this same thought and took IBP down a rather bumpy road.
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Does Strategic Planning Make a Difference?

August 9, 2019
Blimey, here’s a blogpost from former Oxfam GB boss Mark Goldring, written in response to a tweet of mine, repeated below. Pleased to see that someone takes my social media seriously. “’@Oxfam’s published its evaluation of its 2013-19 Strategic Plan. Some +ves: ‘one lesson rises to the top: we must learn how to continuously test & review our theories of

How can Daniel Kahneman help organizations get better at Strategic Planning?

June 11, 2019
Oxfam is embarking on another round of strategic planning – a protracted process of research, debate and negotiation that sometimes make me wonder whether ‘INGO’ should really stand for ‘Interminable Navel-Gazing Ordeal’. Why the negativity? Partly because I worry that much of what is painfully agreed then sits on a virtual shelf until the next exercise 5 years on. The

‘I don’t need a Plan, I need a better Radar’ – how can we rethink Strategic Planning?

May 26, 2017
I was in Washington this week helping the International Budget Partnership think about its future direction. There’s a certain rhythm to these exercises – some research on external trends, consultation with partners and staff, maybe bring in some outside facilitators, then sit down and say ‘so what should we be doing differently?’ These days, there is often an initial session on