"If we were 100 percent successful, what would our community look like?
What would be different? For whom?"
This three-part question from my friend, Hildy Gottlieb, may be the ultimate focal point for a nonprofit and, specifically, a nonprofit board. That makes it a perfect opening for this 2016 Question Week series. Our nonprofit vision should be a better future for our community (however we define "community"), with our mission defining our specific role in fulfilling that vision. That is our biggest, most important responsibility as nonprofit leaders.
I've known Hildy and her work for long enough to no longer remember whether I heard her pose this set of questions in person or whether I read it in one of her books or blog posts. It's been posted on my office wall for years, though the physical reminder is no longer needed. It's engraved on my brain.
This question set invites you to dream, to explore the breadth and depth of your community's transformative potential. What might happen if you were to pose this to your board? What if you really sat down and stretched your thinking about the ideal future you want to see?
This is no time to be timid. Think big. You'll have time for focus when you hone in on your mission, your specific piece of the vision. But for this discussion, you need to dream - dream about the very best for your community. If Hildy were in the room with you, I can pretty much hear her prodding you with a "then what?" after each attempt to describe that vision, as she did during an immersive learning experience she facilitated in 2010 that brought the value of this process home for me.
How does your organization define its vision of the ideal future? How do you connect your mission to that future? How can you engage your board in shaping a vision that compels their work and yours and propels everyone forward?
I'll post a new question daily for the rest of the week. Because I believe in the power of inquiry and great questions that drive it, this may become at least an occasional series once this specific exercise ends. Until tomorrow's question...