I recently attended a few webinars as part of the Global Women’s Leadership Summit. I learned a lot, about a lot of different things, but my biggest takeaway was from a session on focus and vision. I learned how important it is for organizations to have broad focus in order to be successful.
What is focus?
Focus refers to the things we pay attention to. More specifically, focus is what we notice based on what we think is important. A narrow focus provides immediate clarity and helps accomplish essential day-to-day activities, while a broad focus sees the big pictures and makes strategic connections.
A narrow focus supports short-term goals, while a broad focus supports long-term goals. Both of these ways of noticing complement each other and are important to an organization’s success.
I find that non-profits often take a narrow focus and ignore the broad focus, even when having a broad focus could provide significant benefit to the organization in the long-run.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what prevents non-profit organizations from taking a broad focus, and I’ve asked some Executive Directors to share their thoughts on this question as well. This is what I’ve determined:
- Short term results are seen to be more important than future planning. Board members want to see change, so staff members focus their work on what will provide quick payoff. This is particularly true of any initiative that relates to fundraising.
- There is a perceived lack of time and resources to invest in long-term planning. The immediate takes greater priority while planning for the future is seen as a luxury.
- There is a fear in planning for the future, because the future is unknown and can’t be controlled. Instead, it is easier and safer to focus on what is happening right now.
- People want to make an impact. Board and staff members want to be a part of something big, and they want to see tangible results for their efforts. This leads them to focus on what is happening now rather than planning for long-term success.
While these statements are certainly all valid, they do not exclude organizations from taking a broad focus. I promise! And, when incorporated into a non-profit’s daily routine, a broad focus can actually help staff members save time, better utilize resources, and create a bigger impact.
Jene Kapela, Ed.D.
Do you want to learn how your non-profit organization can take a broad focus and become more successful? Contact Jene at firstname.lastname@example.org.