I’m reminded of the importance of Operational Mission after hearing Bill Kliewer speak at our NY Nonprofit Conference. Last year, Bill was appointed CEO of Operation Smile, a leading international children’s medical charity. Today, he is the founder of the Bill Kliewer Group, where he channels his passion and vision to help nonprofits reach their greatest potential.
Bill outlined two key concepts — tenacious tweaking and bold breakthroughs — both of which are essential building blocks for success in any organization.
Tenacious tweaking is sustainable action that can bring about change in an organization’s culture. It comes from the commitment to maximize efficiency, making changes wherever and whenever they are necessary to stay on top. Although this change may come slowly, it is absolutely essential to help nonprofits grow every year. It’s important to note that data-driven resources are fundamental to tenacious tweaking — they provide the up-to-date, integrated information that lets people know what needs to change and what is still working.
But the marketplace changes too quickly for even a constantly evolving model to stay relevant forever – no matter how tenaciously we may tweak. That’s why an organization also needs bold breakthroughs. These require passion, energy, and vigilance to seize opportunities — because you never know that a breakthrough is coming until it happens. Bill described key steps that a company should take to produce a bold breakthrough, including three that resonated for me:
- Look for game-changing information. Always be ready to seize an opportunity to change the playing field—don’t linger behind and wait for everything to return to the status quo. Step out of your comfort zone.
- Search beyond current boundaries of your business. A new market or audience might be just the thing to begin exponential growth. The key to extraordinary success is putting things together in a new way. Take existing successful dots and reconnect them In new ways.
- Make sure you’re steering the ship, or that someone else is. Have an agency partner that challenges you and has the depth and breadth in your marketplace, and has the right chemistry to work with you.
Conversations with the leaders of successful nonprofit groups like Bill’s have me thinking about the great work that nonprofits do, and how important the Mission is. The Mission is everything — the touchstone, the calling card—and every action must align with and reflect it.
DMA’s mission compels us to channel our resources into creating amazing member experiences. Unlike for-profits, our job is not to return profit to shareholders, but to return real value to members. With boldness and tenacity, we will make DMA even more relevant and effective in helping members and the data driven community achieve their missions successfully. I always welcome your ideas on how we can do better.