Planning for Organizational Success: 4 Tips for Social Entrepreneurs to Start the Year Right

Planning for Organizational Success: 4 Tips for Social Entrepreneurs to Start the Year Right

    Tanyella Evans is co-founder & Chief Operating Officer of Library For All.


Tanyella Evans is co-founder & Chief Operating Officer of Library For All.

It’s a new year, and you have so much to achieve. The opportunities seem endless as the months stretch out before you, but how you begin the year will determine whether you reach your goals or not. 

I have been fortunate to have had a huge amount of help over the last 3 years with planning at Library For All, including the expert management consultant Kathryn Ritchie at KRS Strategy. Last year, I also had a team of consultants from Net Impact work with me for three months to define a strategic planning process at Library For All. I have seen a remarkable difference in the focus, drive and energy of the team since implementing these simple tools. With the right planning, and strong alignment, you can set yourself and your team on the path to success in 2016. Here is what I have learned so far: 


1. Envision a Future State

Figure out where you want to see your organization going. If A is where you are now, what does B look like? Without a clear vision, your plans will be futile. I like to take the few days around the New Year to completely switch off and write down what I want my year to look like (one of them was to write more, hence this post!) 

Ask yourself: What does success look like to you? If you look back on 2016 at the end of the year, how will you know if you have made it? For us at Library For All we defined six core goals that we want to achieve this year. Here are a few: 

  1. Continue to develop a stable, engaging and evolving Library platform
  2. Diversify our fundraising portfolio

2. Complete a Logical Framework

I know what some of you are thinking…a log frame - for real? Yes, a logical framework is an old school tool, but there is a reason that it has been around so long - it actually works! Plus the added benefit of using this nifty tool is that you will be able to repurpose it after for your grant proposals and/or business plans. 

The strict logical format forces you to be disciplined in your approach and clearly define what you want to achieve. That said, don’t waste time filling out all the levels of the log frame - just focus on purpose, goal, component objectives, outputs. Here is a template. Start with the organizational log frame, and then get your team to fill out one for each of their departments. You should see strong alignment begin to emerge and your thinking become more clear as you go through each department aligning them with the organizational log frame. 

3. Build the Wall

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There are essentially three levels of planning: 

  1. Organizational
  2. Departmental 
  3. Individual

Using the log frame, you will have already completed the organizational and departmental levels. The next step is to help your individual team members achieve their goals by creating a format for them to plan out their activities. 

The best way to do this is visually - find a large blank wall in your office and create a calendar on the wall for the next 4-8 weeks (most people find it hard to accurately plan at the activity level beyond 4 weeks). Get your team to use post its to put up their major activities each week. Each activity should be color coded to one of their component objectives in the log frame (which can also go along the top of the wall as a reminder). Milestones for the organization should be a different color so everyone can see them. The wall encourages transparency amongst all team members and can be moved around by you and the team as priorities change.

4. Create KPIs

Finally, use the outputs you developed in the organizational log frame to create KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for each team member and department. 

Some individuals and departments should have shared KPIs, and this is great. Each person should have between 1-5 KPIs per quarter, and the same at the department level. Managers in each department are responsible for the departmental KPIs. KPIs should be measurable and achievable. I like to use Weekdone’s OKR system (Objectives and Key Results). OKRs are basically the same as KPIs. Here is a great short demo on how to create OKRs. (I also use Weekdone for weekly reports from the team and it works great). 

If you want to take your planning to the next level, you could also look at the areas of cross over in the log frame and use these to create cross-functional teams that are working together to achieve a departmental or organizational goal. 

For example, if one of your organizational goals is to diversify your fundraising portfolio, that could be a goal that members of the business development, communications and operations team all work on together.  I am currently reading SCRUM, and I think that there are some great lessons in there for building ultra high performance, transcendent and autonomous cross-functional teams…..more to come soon on that! In the meantime, I hope your 2016 get’s off to a great start. And remember the great quote: 

“A goal is a dream with a deadline” - Napoleon Hill