What You Wished Today but Won't Think About Until 2023

By 2023 we all will have questions, insights and observations about ‘work’ that some of us would pay top dollar to have in our hands right now. If only we could see into the future!

Debate still circles on who said ‘the best way to predict the future is to create it.’ Forest Gump reminded us life is like a bunch of chocolates.

What isn’t up for debate is the person responsible. It’s you, it’s me.

Here’s a pop quiz of sorts…some questions and ideas. Here’s the easy part. It’s open book. Here’s the hard part. The answers are up to you. Grab a beverage, a pad and a pen. Disclaimer – you may come away with more questions than answers.

Does your enterprise (or do you):
    a. Put greater emphasis on hiring skilled people
    b. Put greater emphasis on hiring for specific rigid job structures
**Gallup research states ½ of skills learned are becoming obsolete every 5 years**

2. Is your company’s ‘value proposition’ to its team members:
     a. “Come work for us and we’ll take care of you!” (paternal)
     b. “Join us and we’ll position you for the future, here or anywhere!”

3. Is execution an actual component of your strategic plan OR does your company behave like it’s something you ‘do’ once the plan is put together?

4. How many ideas on average are needed to bring 2-3 profitable ideas to market?
     a. 2,000
     b. 4,000
     c. 573
     d. None of the above
**Hint: It’s not A, C or D**

5. Knowing the answer to question #4, how would you score your nonprofit’s tolerance to the process of ‘ideation->testing -> iterating -> improving -> test more -> improve more…’? (Is it absent, low, average, good, great, best in class?)

6. After you answered #5, what should your tolerance be towards the ‘continuous learning and experimenting’ process? Why? What are the barriers that keep you from it? Who needs to be at the table to have this pivotal discussion?

7. Consider these ways to lift your innovation in a world still experiencing levels of isolation:
     a. Use ‘home offices’ to bring props to share that represent something about the person or the project being worked on
     b. Use brainstorm walking sessions with teammates
     c. Have teammates bring 3 options/ideas to meetings relevant to the meeting agenda (parallel prototyping)

8. Is your company:
     a. Focused more on skills (this framework never expires)
     b. Focused more on jobs (this one has an expiration date)

9. How might your answer to number 8 be limiting your company’s future or preparing it for the future?

10. According to Gallup, 70% of engagement is determined solely by a manager. Coaching aimed at the following 5 elements is essential:
    a. Physical
    b. Career
    c. Social
    d. Financial
    e. Community

11. Post pandemic pitfall thinking
Pitfall 1 – assume recent success will translate into post pandemic success
Pitfall 2 – focus solely on financial savings (do a social network analysis to determine connectivity between teams/individuals/departments to gauge whether silos are forming (do this using Microsoft office data)
Pitfall 3 – Avoid communicating a plan until you have perfect clarity (Gallup research revealed 75% of employees want to know a vision in 3 months; 30-something percent want to know now
Pitfall 4 – Creating a one size fits all solution (How often does someone need to be on sight? Base if off the work people are doing)

How did you score? How did you want to score? What did the questions/ideas reveal or provoke you to look into more?

For all the ways nonprofits may be distinct, they are not altogether that different compared to the for-profit enterprise. Yet for some reason I have seen a tendency for the industry to think insularly. For example, topics like business fluency, multidisciplinary, design thinking, cross-functional, agile and data science are often met with greater resistance than from those within other business sectors. I also acknowledge that for every X number of shops that may resist, there are those who are working to accelerate the knowledge base and practice of these and other frameworks.

What are you willing to test?

Now. Go. Experiment. The future is ______________________ (fill in the blank)!






 Josh Plumley, CFRE
Senior Director of Development
Children At Heart Ministries