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For most nonprofits growth and, in fact, survival is equated to an unceasing struggle for more resources —revenue, staff, members or customers. The mantra is “more”—more programs, members or revenue will solve their problems. Yet, in today’s economy it is leverage rather than quantity, innovation rather than production that yields solutions. Take the case of Facebook cited in a Fast Company article.


Most of us “play it by ear” when it comes to the execution of a new concept. Our focus is on acquiring ideas or information—planning, reading, discussing, hearing or analyzing them. When it comes to execution, we rely on the same old tools we always used and settle for ad hoc activities and initiatives. Yet one cannot achieve systems-wide change by “understanding” the concept or generating detailed plans. What these require are fundamental changes in the way organizations think and behave.

It is the execution of change rather than the ideas, themselves, where the rubber meets the road. Paradoxically, however, there are no tools or systems approaches for “executing” innovation.