Posted by: Don Linnen | 28 November 2007

Who’s Your Buddy?

Coordinating volunteers.
Coaching kids soccer…or any other sport for kids under 8.
Getting your church committee to do SOMETHING besides talk.
Starting a new business, a new project from scratch.
Riding bicycles in a pack.
Shopping at the mall after Thanksgiving.
Finding other organizations to work with yours.

Yes. They all have the common denominator of cat herding.

Can’t we all just get along?

No. Well sometimes yes.

So what do you do if you’re one of the 837,027 U.S. nonprofits trying to do more than just exist from month to month? (Nearly 40% of you ran deficits in 2003.)

How ’bout finding a buddy??

Remember. It’s not all about you. At least it’s not supposed to be. Aren’t you doing this for a cause? Who else is trying to do the same thing? Can you help them? Can they help you? Each of you probably has unique strengths. If you’re duplicating each other, someone needs to go…or change. Remember, you’re trying to do good, not just look good.

Life is full of chaos, but often in the middle of that confusion is someone going the same way you are. There’s your potential buddy. Watch a bike race sometime. The Tour de France is the big one, but there are lots of others.

The riders ride in a pack for miles. They’re mostly competitors, but they’re actually helping each other along the way. It’s amazingly more efficient to ride in a pack. They are cooperating at the same time they compete against each other. It’s chaos at its most elegant.

The chaos turns into pure teamwork when the teams pull out of the pack and form pacelines and work together to go further and faster with less effort. (I’m trying valiantly not to repeat an earlier blog…but this is such an important concept.)

Nonprofits are in a competitive business. David LaPiana wrote an excellent book about this. It’s called “Play to Win, The Nonprofit Guide to Competitive Strategy.”

You’ve got to be a successful competitor or you’ll fail. But you’ve also got to be a buddy to get along in this herd of cats.

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