If everything seems under control, could it just be that you’re just not going fast enough?

Srabani Sen OBE is a senior consultant with NCVO specialising in strategy, governance and leadership. She has spent nearly 30 years working in the not for profit sector, ten of these as a CEO. Srabani will be leading NCVO’s two day course, Meaningful Strategy, on 26 and 27 November 2014.

Now, I’m no Formula One fan, but there is a great quote from Mario Andretti which goes something like this: “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”  Whether you agree with this or not, the world in which the voluntary sector is operating is changing so fast, it can feel a little out of control.

The most recent edition of NCVO’s Road Ahead (coming soon), draws clear attention to the many changes buffeting not-for-profit organisations and the people they exist to serve:

  • seismic shifts in the nature of politics
  • regulation of charity campaigning
  • the likely rise in income inequality hitting many of our service users and beneficiaries
  • continued cuts in public spending
  • sizable increases in the UK population overall as well as the oft quoted issue of our aging population
  • hardening social attitudes to issues like welfare.

I could go on, but don’t want to risk your head going into a spin.

The only way to keep your organisation on track is clear, yet flexible and action-orientated strategy. Strategy that is relevant and motivating for staff, trustees and supporters. Emphatically not strategy that once written, ends up on a shelf, getting dustier by the day.

Making sure strategy is a useful tool to steer organisations through these changeable times, has been at the front of my mind in planning NCVO’s Meaningful Strategy course on 26 and 27 November 2014. This practical course will take participants, step by step, through how to develop a robust strategy to ensure their organisations have clear plans to help them thrive.

Highfaluting theory is all fine and dandy, but if you can’t apply it, it is next to useless. Participants will leave the course with more than just a handful of concepts that they’ll be able to apply – though they will get this too! They will leave with the bones of a strategy and process, to work up more fully when they get back to their offices. They will also leave with a copy of NCVO’s handy guide Tools for Tomorrow.

One issue that regularly comes up amongst senior leaders is how to manage and support Trustees through developing a strategy. Let’s face it. If it is hard for charity executives to keep up with all the external changes affecting their charity and their beneficiaries, how much harder is it for Trustees?

Trustees are a dedicated bunch, but for many of them, their only contact with the charity will be at quarterly Board meetings. A lot of them will bring specific skills, such as finance or marketing, but may know little about the specific issues affecting the charity’s beneficiary group, or indeed the charity itself.

With this in mind, I’ve developed a brand new section within the course to look at how to support Trustees. After all, they are the ones that hold the ring on strategy. It is one of their key responsibilities, and therefore it is important to make sure they are properly equipped and supported to fulfil this role.

So if you are trying to make sense of all the changes in the world around you, or you’re not sure how to manage and support trustees to develop strategy, or you just want to know how to develop a strategy that actually works, join us on 26 and 27 November 2014.

And I promise. No more reference to Formula One.

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