Doing nothing is a bad option

Today I was working with a group of middle managers in a mid-sized nonprofit organisation. The discussion went like this, ‘we have some ideas, some stuff we believe could be helpful, but we don’t know where to start.’

A challenge for many working in the funded nonprofit sector can be that they fail to utilise entrepreneurial thinking. It’s not that people lack creativity. They lack the ability to shift their mindset from being told what to do – this often comes with the funded environment, where others set the agenda on how services will be delivered.

The world is full of people in need. There are about 8 different ways a nonprofit organisation may generate revenue. Fee for service is one of those ways and it is often overlooked when people look to diversify revenue sources. Why is this? Partly it is because people involved in social service delivery consider it anethema to make a buck from their knowledge. This type of thinking holds back organisations.

What was my advice to the people I met with this morning? To follow the Nike advt and ‘just do it.’ Do something, get the ball rolling. Doing nothing is a bad option. It is better for your headstone to read, ‘s(he) died trying’ rather than to read, ‘s(he) waited to die.’

Think of the personal satisfaction involved in doing something positive and constructive. Think of the leadership skills you will develop as you gather a group of supporters around you. Think of the collective wisdom and knowledge you will tap into from those supporters. Think about what might be.

There is no right or wrong time to do something. Yes, it involves taking a risk. Yes, you might get it wrong and become the object of ridicule and criticism. There is no guarantee of failure; just as there is no gaurantee of success. The only thing you can be sure off is this. If you do nothing you will have nothing.

So what if it results in you moving to another employer. I know that I was hiring I would look for the resume that says, I tried and failed, rather than the resume that says I failed to try!

Those are my thoughts for the day.

Let the journey continue.

John Coxon


About John Coxon

Principal consultant for John Coxon & Associates, a management consultancy working with boards and management teams in healthcare, aged care and not for profit organisations to develop effective strategic planning processes and social enterprise business plans
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