Lacking momentum, being “stuck,” can become a common “state” for nonprofit leaders and board members…people with good intentions for accomplishing good things for our communities…i.e., making the needle MOVE on something of importance. And this “stuckness” seems to get its nasty grip right at the time there is a momentous decision sitting before the leadership, right? Why is that?
Cue Physicist Sir Isaac Newton: “An object in a state of motion remains in motion unless an external force is applied to it.”
There’s this “external force”, the friction of fear of the unknown, that when applied to the hearts and minds of well-meaning, generally upstanding citizens is like pouring sand into the oil crankcase of a BMW (“The Ultimate Driving Machine:”according to their ads…vs. “The Endlessly Deliberating Machine:” how some board meetings might be characterized )
So, what is the remedy when things at a nonprofit grind inexorably to a halt right around decision-making time…what are steps to overcome that “friction of fear?”
Paging Mr. Newton: “Objects at rest remain at rest unless a force acts upon them.”
THE worst thing for a nonprofit decision-making body is to be a “body at rest.” Not to say that deliberation, prudence and wisdom get tossed to the wind. But when it comes to momentum…that equates to right decisions being made in the right amount of time.
If momentum is ALL about making the right decision in the right amount of time, here are three practical steps you can apply to unstick a stuck leadership group:
- Identify WHERE the fear lies. Hit things, and not people, “head on” when it comes to the persons or politics gumming up the works. By that we mean move the focus off such “people” distractions onto a vision of the benefits that constituents will experience as a result of moving forward.
- List WHAT the major trade-offs are for all to see. It sounds simple, but if everyone sees the pros and cons clearly delineated the “fear factor” tends to dissipate, and the little nagging doubts, and doubters quiet down.
- Plant the WHEN flag. No sense of urgency is probably the biggest pitfall’ of nonprofit boards. Therefore, make clear the costs associated with the ticking clock. It’s true… time IS money, and leaders carry the charge of stewardship.
Let’s talk more about the “physics” of nonprofit decision-making process. We’d like to hear what you’ve found that works to catalyze momentum when procrastination can actually be a costly “external force.” Hey… maybe it’s YOU who needs to act like that ball on Newton’s Swing, bringing motion to those around you.