The Importance of Thinking Big

In a recent conversation with a nonprofit, we talked at length about planning and strategy. I was struck by how often the conversation kept coming back to what I would consider incremental changes – growing a little perhaps, refurbishing an existing program’s environment, etc. I kept pushing toward bigger-picture ideas. If the need they serve in their large community is so great (and growing) why their vision wasn’t more dramatic – double the number of people they serve, create a transportation system to help individuals take part in their programs, design new and advanced ways of serving their specific population, opening a new campus or building an advanced new facility, etc. Each time I was met with initial excitement…and then a return to the incremental.

I firmly believe that a big, bold vision is what motivates people. Telling your team that five years from now your organization will look pretty much the same as it is today, serve pretty much the same customers – even though the need and/or the market is growing – is pretty much NOT motivating. Your employees will do basically the same things they do today. You will not attract big investment or donor dollars. You will NOT see excitement in the marketplace. You probably won’t attract those massively talented people you want.

People are often so resistant to big changes. I get it. Big, bold change is uncomfortable. It makes people nervous. Let’s face it, the unknown can be nerve-wracking. Sometimes they simply can’t envision what the big future picture can look like – and really struggle to see how they will get there. It’s hard to visualize and hard to see the path forward. That’s where leadership and vision come in. Great leaders build a vision and then bring everyone along – managers, employees, investors, donors, customers, board members.

Be bold. Be a leader. Give your organization something big to shoot for! You’ll love the results.


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